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Home > India > News > PTI

Mistress on par with wife under Domestic Violence Act: HC

April 08, 2008 19:43 IST
Last Updated: April 08, 2008 20:18 IST

In a judgement that expands the ambit of the Domestic Violance Act, the Delhi High Court has held that the law protects not only a man's wife but also a mistress or a live-in partner.

"We find no reason why equal treatment should not be accorded to a wife as well as a woman who has been living with a man as his common-law wife or even as a mistress," a bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen and P K Bhasin said.

The bench passed the judgement on a petition filed by a man for quashing criminal proceedings against him on the complaint filed by his live-in partner.

Rejecting the plea of the petitioner, the court said that in case of a woman having a live-in relationship with a man, it could be fairly assumed that the relationship was initiated by the man.

"Like treatment to both (wives and mistress) does not, in any manner, derogate from the sanctity of marriage since an assumption can fairly be drawn that a live-in relationship is invariably initiated and perpetuated by the male," the bench said.

The bench said that in dealing with such cases "the court should also not be impervious to social stigma which always sticks to women and not to men".

The petitioner contended in the High Court that granting equal rights to a live-in relationship partner would diminish the rights of legally-wedded women.

The court, however, rejected his contentions and said, "It is not unconstitutional for the parliament to provide for protection to a woman in a relationship akin to marriage, Along with and juxtaposed to the protection given to wives and legitimate children."

The bench also held that diversion of funds, meant for legally married wife, towards the live-in relationship partner for her protection was not unconstitutional and invalid.

"In unfortunate and uncomfortable situations like these, if the protection given to unwedded women results in the diminution of funds available for maintenance of the legally wedded wives and the legitimate children, such diminution would not render the statute unconstitutional," the bench said.

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