Supreme Court clarifies live-in relationship

The Supreme Court on Thursday said a live-in relationship for purely sexual needs cannot make the partners eligible for the benefits of a marriage.

“If a man has a keep whom he maintains financially, and uses mainly for sexual purpose and as a servant, it would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage,” the court said delivering a judgement on a couple who lived together for 14 years.

A court in Tamil Nadu and the Madras High Court had ruled in favour of the woman who had demanded maintenance from the man after their relationship ended, but the male partner had challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court

The court said whether the woman was a “mistress” or like a wife had to be ascertained first.

The SC said a woman in a live-in relationship is not entitled to maintenance unless she fulfilled the parameters of a marriage like relationship.

The Supreme Court said: “No doubt because of this view many women who have had live-in relationship would be excluded from the benefit of the provisions the protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, which talks about relationship in the nature of marriage.”

The Supreme Court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T S Thakur said that in order to get maintenance, a woman in a live-in relationship must “hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses and for significant period of time”.