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INDRA SARMA V. V.K.V.SARMA

Indra Sarma v. V.K.V.Sarma, 2013 (14) SC 448

ISSUE:

  • Whether respondent’s relationship with the petitioner falls under the definition of in the nature of marriage of the DV Act?
  • Whether respondents can claim maintenance in this relationship?

RULE:

  • To consider a relationship as a “relationship in the nature of marriage” it must inherent essential characteristic of a marriage, but a relationship other than “in the nature of marriage” and the person’s status is lower than the status of a wife and that relationship would not fall within the definition of “domestic relationship” under Section 2(f) of the DV Act.

FACTS:

  • Appellant (Indra Sarma) and respondent (V.K.V. Sarma) were working together in a private company.
  • The Respondent, who was working as a Personal Officer of the Company, was a married person having two children, and the appellant, aged 33 years, was unmarried.
  • In 1992, the appellant quit her job at the company and started living together with the respondent in a shared household. The appellant knew that the respondent was already married.
  • Appellant alleged that he started a business in her name but later shifted his residence and continued the business with the help of his son, thereby depriving her right of working and earning.
  • She also alleged that she was pregnant 3 times but lead to abortion and also respondent forced her to take contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy.
  • She also said that the respondent took money from her many times but never returned it.
  • Appellant filed for maintenance under various statutes.
  • Respondent objected stating it was on sympathetical grounds that he gave shelter to her in a separate house after noticing the fact that she was abandoned by her parents and relatives, especially after the demise of her father.
  • The respondent has admitted that he had cohabited with the appellant since 1993. The fact that he was married and had two children was known to the appellant.
  • The pregnancy of the appellant was terminated with her as well as her brother’s consent since she was not maintaining good health.
  • The respondent had also spent large amounts for her medical treatment and the allegation that he had taken money from the appellant was denied.
  • The learned Magistrate found proof that the parties had lived together for a considerable period of time, for about 18 years, and then the respondent left the company of the appellant without maintaining her.
  • Learned Magistrate took the view that the plea of “domestic violence” had been established, due to the non-maintenance of the appellant and passed the order directing the respondent to pay an amount of Rs.18, 000/- per month towards maintenance from the date of the petition.
  • Respondent aggrieved by the said order of the learned Magistrate filed an appeal before the Sessions Court and the appellate court also concluded that the appellant has no source of income and that the respondent is legally obliged to maintain her and confirmed the order passed by the learned Magistrate.
  • The respondent took up the matter in appeal before the High Court. It was contended before the High Court and the court set aside the order by the other courts.
  • Appellant filed an appeal before Supreme Court.

HELD:

  • Supreme Court is with a view that the appellant, having been fully aware of the fact that the respondent was a married person, could not have entered into a live-in relationship in the nature of marriage.
  • All live-in- relationships are not relationships in the nature of marriage.
  • Appellant’s and the respondent’s relationship is, therefore, not a “relationship in the nature of marriage” because it has no inherent or essential characteristic of a marriage, but a relationship other than “in the nature of marriage” and the appellant’s status is lower than the status of a wife and that relationship would not fall within the definition of “domestic relationship” under Section 2(f) of the DV Act.
  • The court found that the appellant’s status was that of a mistress, who is in distress, a survivor of a live-in relationship.
  • By entering into such a relationship, the appellant has committed an intentional tort, i.e. interference in the marital relationship with intentionally alienating respondent from his family, i.e. his wife and children.
  • The court was aware of the fact that if any direction is given to the respondent to pay maintenance or monetary consideration to the appellant, that would be at the cost of the legally wedded wife and children of the respondent, especially when they had opposed that relationship and have a cause of action against the appellant for alienating the companionship and affection of the husband/parent which is an intentional tort.
  • Therefore the court found no reasons to interfere with the judgment of the High Court and the appeal is accordingly dismissed.