SC says no to plea for quashing "keep" remarks

The SC dismissed a petition by a women`s group seeking withdrawal of the controversial phrase "keep" used by it in a judgement in which it held that a "one night stand" with a man would not entitle a woman to maintenance.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed
a petition by a women`s group seeking withdrawal of the
controversial phrase "keep" used by it in a judgement in
which it held that a "one night stand" with a man would not
entitle a woman to maintenance.

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur
rejected Mahila Dakshat Samiti`s petition on the ground that
it had no locus standi(legal right) to question the judgement
since it was not a party to the matrimonal dispute in which
the judgement was passed.

In the judgement delivered on October 21 last year, the
apex court had held "if a man has a `keep` whom he maintains
financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and or as a
servant, it would not in our opinion be a relationship in the
nature of marriage."

The country`s lone woman Additional Solicitor General
Indira Jaising and Vinay Bhardwaj, Vice President of the
Samiti, expressed dissappointment at the apex court`s refusal
to withdraw the "derogatory remark."

The bench in a terse order today said "application for
permission to file a review petition is rejected. This review
petition has been filed on behalf of Mahila Dakshat Samiti
seeking review of this court`s order dated 21st October, 2010
whereby the appeals were allowed.

"Mahila Dakshat Samiti was not a party before this court
or before the High Court or trial court. Having carefully gone
through the review petition and connected papers, we see no
reason to grant permission to Mahila Dakshat Samiti to file
this review petition.

Hence, the application for permission to
file review petition is rejected." The apex court in the judgement had ruled that a woman
in a live-in relationship is not entitled to maintenance
unless she fulfils certain parameters and said merely spending
weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a
domestic relationship.

It formulated the following parameters for a woman in
live-in relationship to seek maintenance.

(1) The couple must hold themselves out to society as
being akin to spouses, (2) they must be of legal age to marry,
(3) they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal
marriage including being unmarried, (4) they must have
voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as
being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

"In our opinion, not all live-in relationships will
amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the
benefit of the Act of 2005 (Protection of Women from Domestic
Violence Act). To get such benefits, the conditions mentioned
by us above must be satisfied and this has to be proved by
evidence," the court had said.

The apex court had passed the judgement while setting
aside the concurrent orders passed by a matrimonial court and
the Madras High Court awarding Rs 500 maintenance to D
Patchaiammal who claimed to have married the appellant D

Velusamy had challenged the two courts` order on the
ground that he was already married to one Laxmi and
Patchiammal was not married to him though he lived with her
for some time. Jaising said "the judges have chosen the easy option
instead of confronting the issue as would be expected from
judges from the Supreme Court."

She said the Samiti was an organisation with an
illustrious track record of having worked in the interest of
women for the last several decades including formulation of
the dowry prohibition act and hence its credibility could
never be doubted.

"The issues raised in the review peition do not relate to
the parties to the case alone but to women as a class. The
issues are use of gender bias language in judgements of the
Supreme Court of India.

"It is expected gender-neuter language. The objection was
to the word `keep` and expression used only in relation to
women in a highly derogatory context," she said adding the
apex court had missed a "historic opportunity to correct a

Bhardwaj said she was deeply disturbed by the judgement
as the apex court since the 1980s had played very progressive
roles on women issues.

"As the time goes, the Supreme Court should have taken
up positive and progressive views in view of the magnitude of
the problems of women. Instead, it has chosen to dismiss the
petition," she said.