Domestic Violence Act- Not all Live-in-Relationships are Covered under the Act- Bombay HC

August 16, 2018

In the case, the issue that fell for consideration before the High Court of Bombay was the interpretation of provision of Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Domestic Violence Act).

Only those Relationships that Qualify in the Nature of Marriage are Covered u/DV Act

Case name: Reshma Begum v. State of Maharashtra & anr.

In the case the parties who were a couple separated on account of dispute between them. Subsequently, the applicant filed a proceeding under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 against the Respondent. The Respondent, who was a Muslim challenged the application on the ground that the applicant was already married and so was he. Thus, the marriage between them was not legally possible.

The Addl. Sessions Judge in the case while relying on Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Velusamy Vs. D. Patchaiammal, held that the applicant and the respondent No.2 were not qualified to enter into a legal marriage as they were already married and their marriages were in subsistence. Hence, the relationship was not covered by Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act. Aggrieved by the impugned order, the Applicant approached the High Court.

Bombay High Court’s Verdict

  1. The High Court noted that there was enough material to show that the applicant and the respondent no.2 had established a kind of relationship as they had entered into marriage ceremony in presence of Kazi and Nikahnama was also executed and there was also a birth certificate showing that a child was born to the applicant and the respondent No.2 was shown as the father of the child.
  2. With reference to the interpretation of the term “relationship” under Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act, the Court noted that the interpretation put on the definition and particularly the words ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ by the Supreme Court in Veluswamy’s case means:
  • The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.
  • They must be of legal age of marry.
  • They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage;
  • They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time

In view of the aforesaid, the High Court opined that it was abundantly clear that not all the live in relationships are covered under the provision of Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act. It is only those which qualify to be the relationship in the nature of marriage are governed by that provision.

In order to constitute such relationship, a legal marriage between the two must be possible. 

The entire case can be accessed here.