This Article is From Dec 01, 2013

Supreme Court frames guidelines for determining live-in relationship

New Delhi: Duration of relation, shared household and pooling of resources are some of the guidelines the Supreme Court has framed for bringing live-in relationship within the expression 'relationship in the nature of marriage' for protection of women under Domestic Violence (DV) Act.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said though the eight guidelines are not exhaustive, these will definitely give some insight to such relationships.

Framing guidelines for determining live-in relations, the bench said that pooling of financial and domestic arrangements, entrusting the responsibility, sexual relationship, bearing children, socialization in public and intention and conduct of the parties are some of the other criteria to be considered for determining the nature of relations between parties.

For duration of period of relationship, the bench said section 2(f) of the DV Act has used the expression "at any point of time", which means a "reasonable period of time to maintain and continue a relationship which may vary from case to case, depending upon the fact situation."

Similarly, it said the guideline of pooling of resources and financial arrangements meant "supporting each other, or any one of them, financially, sharing bank accounts, acquiring immovable properties in joint names or in the name of the woman, long term investments in business, shares in separate and joint names, so as to have a long standing relationship, may be a guiding factor".

The bench said domestic arrangements where there is entrustment of responsibility, especially on the woman to run the home, do the household activities like cleaning, cooking, maintaining or up-keeping the house are indication of a relationship in the nature of marriage.

The guidelines include presence of sexual relationship and children which mean, "Marriage like relationship refers to sexual relationship, not just for pleasure, but for emotional and intimate relationship, for procreation of children, so as to give emotional support, companionship and also material affection, caring etc.

"Having children is a strong indication of a relationship in the nature of marriage. Parties, therefore, intend to have a long standing relationship. Sharing the responsibility for bringing up and supporting them is also a strong indication."

The Supreme Court passed the verdict while adjudicating dispute between a live-in couple where the woman had sought maintenance from the man after the relationship came to an end.