Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V. Sarma, MANU/SC/1230/2013.
Background: The Supreme Court in this case was concerned with the question whether a “live-in relationship” would amount to a “relationship in the nature of marriage” falling within the definition of “domestic relationship” under Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (for short “the DV Act”) and the disruption of such a relationship by failure to maintain a women involved in such a relationship amounts to “domestic violence” within the meaning of Section 3 of the DV Act.
The guidelines, of course, are not exhaustive, but will definitely give some insight to such relationships.
(1) Duration of period of relationship
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 situation.
(2) Shared household
The expression has been defined Under Section 2(s) of the DV Act and, hence, need no further elaboration.
(3) Pooling of Resources and Financial Arrangements
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.
(4) Domestic Arrangements
Entrusting the responsibility, especially on the woman to run the home, do the household activities like cleaning, cooking, maintaining or up keeping the house, etc. is an indication of a relationship in the nature of marriage.
(5) Sexual Relationship
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.
(7) Socialization in Public
Holding out to the public and socializing with friends, relations and others, as if they are husband and wife is a strong circumstance to hold the relationship is in the nature of marriage.
(8) Intention and conduct of the parties
Common intention of parties as to what their relationship is to be and to involve, and as to their respective roles and responsibilities, primarily determines the nature of that relationship.