Coming to the rescue of a 30-year-old domestic help, who claimed to be in a live-in relationship with her 65-year-old widower employer, the Delhi High Court has directed him to pay Rs 3,000 a month to her as maintenance.
Dismissing an appeal filed by west Delhi resident Mahender, challenging the family court's direction for maintenance, Justice Hima Kohli upheld the trial court's order accepting the woman's claim that she along with her three minor children were living with her employer as husband and wife since 2009.
"The trial court has reached the conclusion that as per settled legal principles, in proceedings under Section 125 CrPC relating to maintenance of wives, children and parents, the standard of proof required to prove the validity of a marriage is not very stringent," said Justice Kohli.
"If it can be shown that the parties living as husband and wife, were being treated as married, then the same would be considered a valid marriage, sufficient to award interim maintenance to the dependants, she added.
"This court finds no illegality, arbitrariness or infirmity in the aforesaid finding reached by the trial court.
Further, this court is inclined to agree with the trial court that the determination of the validity of a marriage can only be made in the course of the trial, after evidence has been led by both the parties," the court said.
"In this view of the matter, the submission of the petitioner that as he is not married to the respondent, he is not liable to pay any maintenance, is turned down," Justice Kohli said in her order last week, asking the man to pay compensation.
Mahender had come to the high court challenging the February 4 order of the family court, granting an interim maintenance to the maid Aarti.
The court rejected Mahender's contention that the woman's petition was not maintainable and should be dismissed, as there exists no valid marriage between the petitioner and respondent.
The counsel for Mahender said his client had allowed the woman to work in his house as a domestic help as she was a widow having to look after three children.
He had argued that Mahender was not in a position to pay the maintenance amount due to financial constraints.
The judge had also noted that Mahender had not placed on record any document to show that the maid was gainfully employed and hence saw no need to interfere with the lower court's order at this stage.