Govt lawyer resents use of `keep` in SC ruling on live-ins

The SC had used the word "keep" in a judgment on rights of women in live-in relationships.

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2010, 00:07 AM IST

New Delhi: Additonal Solicitor General
Indira Jaising`s outburst today in Supreme Court against
mention of `keep` in the judgement on live-in relationship was
triggered by a query from Justice Markandeya Katju heading the
Bench.

Little did Justice Katju realise that his penchant for
incisive comments and observations could evoke a strong
reaction from Jaising when he sought her views on the
judgement as she was closely involved in drafting the
"Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005."

The moment justice Katju, who was sitting along with
Justice T S Thakur, put the poser, Jaising who had come to
the court in connection with another case voiced her strong
disapproval of the word "keep" used in the judgement.

Incidentally, Justice Katju had to withdraw
controversial comments made in another judgement when he said
"Talibanisation" of the country cannot be allowed by
permitting Muslims to sport beards in educational
institutions.

Informed sources said that the Law Ministry may be
approached for filing an application on behalf of the
Government seeking deletion of certain observations in the
judgement on live-in relationship.

Jaising said she and several women in the country were
not only opposed to the expression "keep" but also the use of
phrase "one night stand" by the Bench in the judgement.

"The words used in the judgement are derogatory.
Supreme Court has traditionally been sensitive to women. But
use of words like `keep" and `one night stand` are
not legal language. The court has to be gender sensitive,"
she later told PTI.

"It is like setting the clock back after the Supreme
Court has passed the historic judgement in the Visakha case.
That judgement is cited in the courts all over the world," the
ASG said.

Since there was no law on dealing with sexual
expoloitation of women at work places, the Supreme Court in
the famous Vishakha vs. the State of Rajasthan (August 1997)
case had framed a series of guidelines to prevent sexual
harassment of women at work places.

She said India being a signatory to the UN Convention
on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) was
bound to respect the ideal of eliminating all kinds of
discriminaton against women.It applied to all wings of the
democracy like legislature, executive and judiciary, she
added.

-PTI
It had also observed that merely spending weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a domestic relationship.

The bench had said that in order to get maintenance, a woman, even if not married, has to fulfil the following four requirements:

(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.

"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 court had said

.
The apex court had passed the judgment 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.

PTI