The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Push for alimony in live-in relationship

New Delhi, Dec. 26: A woman in a live-in relationship should be allowed to seek maintenance if she is deserted or shunned by her partner, the National Commission for Women has recommended.

Citing instances where women living in relationships “in the nature of marriage’’ were left with little or no sustenance after being deserted, the commission has suggested an amendment to the CrPC to allow them to claim monthly allowance.

A person with sufficient means is bound to maintain his wife, children or parents who are unable to support themselves. If he fails in his duty, a magistrate can order him to pay a monthly allowance under Section 125 of the CrPC.

According to the recommendation, women in a live-in relationship should be eligible for the same allowance.

Advocate and women’s rights activist Kamini Jaiswal said the suggestion recognised the “realities of today”. She, however, suggested that live-in relationships should be defined so that a woman was not caught up in legal wrangles.

The commission is silent on the duration of such a relationship to qualify for maintenance. Sources there said this aspect should be left to the courts to decide.

In the absence of a legal provision, the courts cannot help women who unwittingly enter into wedlock with a married man or live together in a relationship like marriage, the commission said.

An illegitimate child is included within the ambit of Section 125 of the CrPC but not a woman who is not lawfully married. A woman claiming maintenance has to first prove she was lawfully wedded to the man before being deserted.

Frequently, a woman realises that her marriage is not valid only after her husband deserts her and refuses alimony. In such cases, she has to prove that her marriage was valid and legal under the personal law by which they were governed.

The recent Domestic Violence Act has broadly defined domestic relationship to protect not only wives but also women living in relationships in the nature of marriage. But the provision for maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC, as it stands today, does not cover such women.

The commission said that in a recent case the Supreme Court had expressed helplessness in providing relief to such women in the absence of a provision in law. The court said it was for the legislature to include such women within the ambit of Section 125 of CrPC.

A woman from Gujarat had approached the Supreme Court for maintenance from her so-called husband who had deserted her for another woman. She claimed that she had married him and even had a child, but could not prove it.

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