Section 2(f) of the DV Act defines “domestic relationship”, extending its ambit to “relationship in the nature of marriage” and thus extending its protection to women whose marriage are invalid or void under law, or who haven’t gone through a formal marriage with their partners (live-in relationships), but are otherwise as good as a married couple.
What is the meaning of Relationship in nature of marriage?
The meaning of “relationship in nature of marriage” was first considered by the Supreme Court in the matter of Veluswamy v. Patchaiammal, where a relationship in the nature of marriage was said to be akin to common law marriages. The Supreme Court laid down the essentials of a common law marriage as follows:
the couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses;
they must be of legal age to marry;
they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried; and
they must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.
What is the Difference between Live-In Relationship and Relationship in Nature of Marriage?
It was cleared by the Supreme Court that merely spending weekends together or one night stands, exchanging sexual favours in return of financial favours are not considered to be “relationship in nature of marriage”. In Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarmathe Supreme Court differentiated between a relationship in nature of marriage and a live-in relationship. The Supreme Court gave eight factors which should be considered while deciding whether a relationship can be covered as one in the nature of marriage:
Duration of a relationship: a reasonable period of time. It may vary from case to case and fact to fact.
Pooling resources and shared financial arrangements
Intention and conduct
The above list of factors is not an exhaustive list.
In case of women who are/were married, who all can ask for relief under the DV Act?
Second wives, divorced wives, divorced Muslim wives, widows are all entitled to obtain relief under the DV Act.