Woman in live-in relationship cannot claim status equal to that of wife, says judge

Illegitimate children of a government employee are entitled to be included as nominees to receive the terminal benefits of a government servant in the event of his death but their mother is not entitled for the benefit, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.

Disposing of a writ petition filed by the wife of a policeman to restrain him from nominating another woman to receive his terminal benefits, Justice S. Vaidyanathan held that a woman in a live-in relationship with a government servant could not claim a status equal to that of his wife.

He rejected the contention of the policeman’s counsel that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, would prevail over the Tamil Nadu Pension Rules, 1978, which state that a government servant can nominate his wives, sons, stepsons, adopted sons and also those born through illegitimate wives.

“Merely because the Domestic Violence Act approves of live-in relationship, it does not mean that it approves illegitimate relationship and that terminal benefits due to the third respondent (policeman) should be given to a person who is having illegitimate relationship with him,” the judge said.

He also cited a recent Supreme Court judgment wherein it was stated that all live-in relationships are not relationships in the nature of marriage. It added that the status of a woman in a relationship other than in the nature of a marriage would be lower than the status of a wife.

“If we hold that the relationship between the appellant and the respondent is a relationship in the nature of a marriage, we will be doing an injustice to the legally wedded wife and children who opposed that relationship,” the apex court had observed in that case related to payment of maintenance.

After quoting the Supreme Court ruling, Mr.Justice Vaidyanathan directed the Thanjavur Superintendent of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Tiruchi range) to include the writ petitioner and the two illegitimate sons of her husband alone as his nominees.

In her affidavit, the petitioner said that she had begotten three children. But unfortunately, all three of them died immediately after their birth. It led to a misunderstanding between the couple and the policeman was now paying monthly maintenance amount of Rs.2,250 to her though he was living with another woman.

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