Partner in Live-in Relationships Entitled to Maintenance: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has made partners living in a live-in-relationship a valid marriage. Supreme Court observing the question of maintenance to woman in a live-in-relationship showed a conflict between the provisions for maintenance under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and Section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Section 125, CrPC recognizes right of maintenance of only a legally wedded wife whereas Domestic Violence Act, 2005 recognizes the right of maintenance of a woman in a live-in-relationship from a man as Madras High Court has recognized live-in-relationship under the Domestic Violence Act. Justice R. Mahadevan, when the matter came in the Madras High Court has said that the definition of domestic violence is very broad and will cover maintenance for a concubine and to a second wife also.

The court disposed the writ petition filed by the wife of Ex- Chief Educational Officer whereby the husband was living with the second wife since 47 years without giving divorce to the first wife. The writ petition was filed by the first wife to restrain the government officials to pay pension to the second wife after the death of the husband. The husband being married under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and cannot be remarried or have a second wife during the subsistence of the first marriage. The court being in a dilemma referred to the provisions of Domestic Violence Act, 2005 whereby equal protection to be given to second wife or a concubine and thus the court directed the Accountant General to pay the amount of pension equally among both the wives and in case of death of one of the party, the surviving party can claim the whole amount. Justice Mahadevan, Madras High Court said “the concept of paying pension to the family members is to enable them to lead a decent life after the life time of the petitioner. Therefore… the memorandum of compromise is accepted and recorded.”

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