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“Relationship in the nature of marriage” means a relationship which has some inherent or essential characteristics of a marriage though not a marriage legally recognized: The High Court of Delhi

The relationship of marriage continues, notwithstanding the fact that there are differences of opinions, marital unrest, etc., even if they are not sharing a shared household, being based on law. But live-in relationship is purely an arrangement between the parties unlike, a legal marriage. Once a party to a live-in relationship determines that he/she does not wish to live in such a relationship, that relationship comes to an end. Further, in a relationship in the nature of marriage, the party asserting the existence of the relationship, at any stage or at any point of time, must positively prove the existence of the identifying characteristics of that relationship, since the legislature has used the expression “in the nature of”. The aforesaid was established in the case of Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755 and laid the premise to be followed by the Delhi High Court to be followed in the case of Parveen Tandon v. Tanika Tandon [CRL.M.C. 264/2021 & CRL.M.A. 1352/2021 (Stay) and CRL.M.C.420/2021 & CRL.M.As. 2196/2021 & 8859/2021 (Stay)] which was decided by a single judge bench comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad on 7th June 2021.

An application was filed by the respondent herein under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate that she took a divorce from her previous marriage and entered into a marriage with the petitioner in 2014 after meeting him in the year 2009. It is stated that the petitioner herein had not disclosed his marital status to the applicant/respondent herein when they both met so as to induce the respondent to marry him. It was further stated that the petitioner herein executed a Marriage Agreement to show his genuineness and responsibility towards the applicant/respondent herein and her child from her previous marriage and another Agreement-cum-Marriage Deed was entered into between the petitioner herein and the applicant/respondent herein on 22.11.2014. It was further contended that the petitioner herein had arranged a rental accommodation and both of them were living as husband and wife. It is further mentioned that the name of the petitioner herein is shown as the father of the child of the applicant/respondent herein in the school records and that in the bank accounts of the respondent herein, the petitioner is shown as a nominee. In the later stages, certain differences arose between the parties and the applicant/respondent herein therefore prayed for an order restraining the petitioner herein from evicting the applicant/respondent herein from the rented accommodation. An application for grant of interim maintenance has also been filed by the respondent herein. Learned Metropolitan Magistrate rejected the plea of the petitioner herein to dismiss the case on the ground of maintainability and directed the petitioner herein to pay an ad-interim maintenance of Rs.10,000/- per month.

The arguments presented by both the parties are as follows. The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that an application under Section 12 of the DV Act can be filed only by an aggrieved person. He stated that when the respondent knew that the petitioner was married to somebody else the respondent cannot claim any relief under the DV Act. On the contrary, the counsel for respondent threw light on the facts that the parties have been married for 6 years now and the respondent’s child has named the petitioner as his father in school records as well. The share common financial information and that they had proclaimed to the world at large that they are both husband and wife.

The court conducted a detailed perusal of the facts, arguments and the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. It took into consideration several judgments including D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469; Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755 and Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand, (2019) 13 SCC 796. It examined several factors including the duration of marriage, the sharing of household, the pooling of financial resources and others to arrive on a decision that “It cannot be said that the order of the courts below warrants interference of this Court by exercising its revisional jurisdiction” and in its further orders, while dismissing the applications it stated that “In case the Metropolitan Magistrate, after evidence is led, comes to a conclusion that the respondent herein was not entitled to the protection of the DV Act then adequate safeguards must be made to ensure that the respondent returns the amount received by her as interim maintenance in terms of the order dated 26.10.2020, passed by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate back to the petitioner with interest. The rate of interest is to be fixed by the Metropolitan Magistrate. The learned Trial Court is directed to hear the matter and decide the matter finally within a period of one year.”

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