The Kerala High Court has held that valid marriage is not required to claim the benefits of the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
Justice K. Harilal has observed that what is intended under Section 2(a) of the Act is a relationship in the nature of marriage and nothing more. A marriage which is valid in the eye of the law is not required to claim the benefits under the Act. The couple must have lived together akin to spouses. That alone is sufficient.
The legislative intent of the Act itself is to give protection to women who live with their husbands in the nature of a marriage but without a legal marriage.
The Supreme Court has specially stated that they must have attained legal age of marriage. They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being spouses for a significant period of time.
The court made the observation on Tuesday while dismissing a petition filed by Joby of Cherthala against a complaint filed by his live-in partner seeking a protection order from domestic violence and compensation. He contended that there was no domestic relationship between the petitioner and the complainant. He was only living together and there was no valid marriage. He, therefore, sought to quash the complaint.