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To Claim Maintenance – “Relationship in the Nature of Marriage” Need to be Proved: High Court of Shimla

Certain tests are required to be done while claiming maintenance that under what circumstances relationship will fall under the category of Relationship in the nature of Marriage. This remarkable judgement was passed by Shimla High court in the case of Param Jeet Singh v. Kiran Bala & another [CMPMO No. 295 of 2019] by the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sandeep Sharma.

The petition  was filed by petitioner under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., read with Article 227 of the Constitution of India for quashing and setting aside the order passed in Lok Adalat.The complaint under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act was filed by respondent No.1 against the petitioner, seeking therein maintenance for domestic violence, but then both entered into the compromise, The petitioner said that he will pay sum of Rs. 4000/- as monthly maintenance and Rs.1500/- as rent to the respondent. After five years of passing of aforesaid order, petitioner approached Court, seeking to quash the order on the ground that respondent No.1 was already married to respondent No.2 she could not have claimed any maintenance from him on account of Domestic Violence Act. The petitioner wanted to carve out a case that since respondent No.1 was already married with respondent No.2 at the time of passing of order, he is not liable to pay any maintenance but respondent No.1 was not his legally wedded.

The court opinioned that, “on record that marriage inter se petitioner and respondent No.1 was solemnized as per Hindu Custom and Rites and they had been living as husband and wife at the time of filing petition under the Domestic Violence Act, grounds as raised in the petition at hand for quashing and setting aside the order dated 6.12.2014 cannot be made basis to set aside the order of maintenance passed by the Lok Adalat. Section 2(f) of the Act, defines “domestic relationship”, domestic relationship means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage.”

The Hon’ble Apex Court in case Indra Sharma vs. V.K.V.Sarma, AIR 2014 had laid down certain guidelines for testing under what circumstances, a live-in relationship will fall within the expression “relationship in the nature of marriage” under Section 2(f) of the DV Act.

The court further stated that, “petitioner has been not able to dispute that he as well as respondent No.1 after their marriage had been living together as husband and wife and during this period, they also shared household. In the proceedings under Section 12 of the Act, petitioner never raised the ground with regard to earlier marriage of respondent No.1 with respondent No.2, rather he admitted that respondent No.1 to be his legally wedded wife.”

The petition was dismissed and impugned order dated 6.12.2014 passed by the Court below is upheld stating that, “The petitioner falls within the definition of expression “relationship in the nature of marriage” under Section 2(f) of the Act and she has been subjected to domestic violence as defined under section 12 of the Act.”

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