Live In Relationships-Right To Maintenance

live In relationships

The Supreme Court of India has, in a significant judgment, offered essential insights into the rights of individuals in live-in relationships and their eligibility for maintenance under the law. Specifically, in the the case of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal, the apex court deliberated upon the intricate balance between relationships “in the nature of marriage” and legal wedlock.

Background of the Live In Relationships Case

In this case, D. Velusamy, the appellant, asserted that he entered into a legal marriage with a woman named Lakshmi through Hindu customary rites. He fathered a child during this marriage, who was actively pursuing his studies. Conversely, D. Patchaiammal, the respondent. Initiated a petition under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) in 2001, contending that she had been wed to Velusamy in 1986 and that they cohabited for a few years. However, Velusamy subsequently abandoned her. She filed for maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C., citing her inability to support herself, whereas Velusamy, a Secondary Grade Teacher, was earning a monthly salary of Rs. 10,000.

The Court’s Decision

The Family Court initially ruled in favor of Patchaiammal, finding that Velusamy was married to her and not Lakshmi. This decision was upheld by the Madras High Court. However, the Supreme Court found fault with this decision.

Legal Implications

The judgment addresses two vital aspects:

Definition of “Wife”

The Supreme Court offered a clarification on the definition of “wife” under Section 125 Cr.P.C. Specifically, it encompasses a woman who has either undergone divorce initiated by her husband or has secured a divorce and subsequently not entered into a new marriage. However, in situations where a valid marriage is absent, neither divorce nor maintenance can be claimed. This reiterates the essential requirement of a lawful marriage for the assertion of maintenance rights.

Live-in Relationships

The court recognized the emergence of live-in relationships as a new social phenomenon in India. While the law doesn’t explicitly address live-in relationships, the judgment draws a distinction between marriage and relationships “in the nature of marriage.” To qualify as the latter, the relationship must meet the following conditions:

The couple must hold themselves out to society as akin to spouses.
They should be of legal age to marry.
They must be eligible for legal marriage.
The parties have cohabited and held themselves out as spouses for a substantial period.
The court emphasized that not all live-in relationships qualify as “relationships in the nature of marriage.” Proving such relationships requires concrete evidence, and establishing them cannot rely solely on spending weekends together.

Conclusion of Live In Relationships Case

The D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal judgment offers crucial clarity on the rights of individuals in live-in relationships. It emphasizes that only relationships that genuinely resemble marriage are eligible for legal benefits. Furthermore, this landmark judgment underscores the pressing need for legal recognition of live-in relationships, highlighting that this matter may necessitate legislative intervention in the future.

This decision significantly underscores the paramount importance of addressing the evolving dynamics of Indian society within the framework of existing laws. It underscores the necessity for legal systems to adapt to the changing social landscape. It offers valuable guidance to those navigating issues of maintenance and relationship status in live-in partnerships. The Supreme Court’s ruling aims to protect the interests of all parties involved while upholding the principles of natural justice.

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