Amend law to protect women and children in live-in relationships: court

The Supreme Court has asked Parliament to bring in proper amendments to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, or enact a suitable legislation so that women and children born out of live-in relationships are protected, though those types of relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage.

Making this suggestion, a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said: “Parliament has to ponder over these issues, and bring in proper legislation or make a proper amendment of the DV Act.”

The Bench said children born out of such relationships “suffer [the] most, which calls for bringing in remedial measures by the Parliament, through proper legislation.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Married couples who choose to marry are fully cognisant of the legal obligation which arises by the operation of law on solemnisation of the marriage and the rights and duties they owe to their children and the family as a whole, unlike the case of persons entering into live-in relationship. Live-in relationship, as such, is a relationship which has not been socially accepted in India, unlike many other countries.”

The Bench said: “Live-in or marriage like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin though socially unacceptable in this country. Long-standing relationship as a concubine, though not a relationship in the nature of a marriage, of course, may at times, deserves protection because that woman might not be financially independent, but we are afraid that DV Act does not take care of such relationships which may perhaps call for an amendment of the definition of Section 2(f) of the DV Act, which is restrictive and Exhaustive.”

In the instant case, the appellant, Indra Sarma, had a live-in relationship with the respondent, V.K.V. Sarma, who was already married with two children. She maintained the relationship for about 18 years and claimed maintenance amount under the DV Act. A trial court awarded Rs. 18,000 a month and this was upheld by a sessions court. However the Karnataka High Court set aside the order. The present appeal is directed against this judgment.

Dismissing the appeal and declining to interfere with the High Court order, the Bench said the appellant was aware that the respondent was married when the relationship began. “ Hence the status of the appellant is that of a concubine or a mistress, who cannot enter into relationship in the nature of a marriage. 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. Consequently, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent in connection with that type of relationship, would not amount to ‘domestic violence’ under Section 3 of the DV Act.”

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 1:30:25 AM |

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