The Supreme Court today ruled that if a man has a live-in relationship with a woman only for sexual reasons, it cannot amount to a relationship that entitles either partner to the benefits of marriage.
The court said, "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."
Today's comments were based on the case of a couple who lived together for 14 years before their relationship ended.
Patchaiammal from Tamil Nadu claimed maintenance from Veluswamy, who objected on the grounds that he is already married, and that his relationship with Patchiammal was a brief one.
While a lower court is yet to decide whether this was a valid live-in relationship, the Supreme Court has said that to qualify for palimony, the couple must have voluntarily cohabited and presented themselves to the world as "akin to spouses for a significant period of time."
The court has also said that both partners must be single.
''It's going to weaken other precedents which have come and which have been progressive ...Wife's rights have to be maintained but also the live-in partner, who has obviously taken care of the person ... cannot be just used and thrown out,'' says women's rights activist Sonya Gill.
The Supreme Court is also hearing another case which has presented a Constitutional conflict.
On one hand, the Domestic Violence Act says a woman in any relationship in the nature of marriage can claim maintenance.
But the Criminal Procedure Code limits the right to a wife.