No maintenance for ‘keep’, says SC
In what instance can a woman in a live-in relationship claim maintenance? Not if she is ‘kept’ for sex or as a servant, Supreme Court said on Thursday. Satya Prakash reports.india Updated: Oct 22, 2010 01:50 IST
In what instance can a woman in a live-in relationship claim maintenance? Not if she is ‘kept’ for sex or as a servant, Supreme Court said on Thursday.
It said the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — which provides maintenance to women who live in — doesn’t cover all such relationships, only ‘relationships in the nature of marriage’.
“If a man has a ‘keep’ he uses for sex and/or as a servant, it would not be a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’,” it said.
The court said a woman can get maintenance only if she fulfils certain parameters — the couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses; they must be of legal age to marry; they must be otherwise qualified to marry, including being unmarried; they must have voluntarily cohabited for some time — and can prove this.
“Parliament has said ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’, not ‘live-in relationship’. The court can’t change the language of the statute,” it said.
“This is one step forward and two back,” said jurist Rajiv Dhavan. “On one hand the court gives a liberal interpretation to common law live-in relationship… But the fact it is purely sexual for the man is irrelevant as long as the live-in relationship exists. This leaves too many options for the man, including, paradoxically, that he was giving vent only to his lust. It creates a loophole in an otherwise liberal judgment.”
The SC order came on a plea against a Madras High Court order upholding a trial court decision in favour of maintenance — under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) — to a woman living in with a man.
But the SC sent the case back to the trial court after clarifying that under the CrPC only a legal wife, dependent parents and children can get maintenance while the 2005 Act does not clearly define ‘a relationship in the nature of marriage’.