A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur, while reserving its judgement on the issue, said it would interpret the provisions of CrPC and The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 to decide the question of law.
The apex court said it was necessary to clarify the legal position on the issue as umpteen number cases are cropping up in courts on maintenance claims of concubines, women in live-in-relationship and girlfriends.
"Though a one-night affair may not lead to the conclusion that a woman is a concubine, in cases where the relationship has been for several years, a woman can be called a concubine who may be entitled to maintenance," the Bench said.
Further, it said a married man may visit a woman during the weekends and even in such relationship it cannot be presumed that she is a concubine. But if the man and woman are living together for a long period, then it may give her the status of a concubine to determine her eligibility for maintenance.
The apex court passed the direction while chiding a man Velusamy for having an intimate relationship with a woman for 14 years but refusing to pay her maintenance on the ground that she was not legally entitled to it.
The court, after hearing the views submitted by senior counsel and amicus curiae Jayant Bhushan, said though Section 125 Cr PC does not give a concubine the right to maintenance, certain provisions of Domestic Violence Act read in conjunction with it may entitle women in such a relationship to the grant of alimony (maintenance).
Justice Thakur agreed with Bhushan's submission that care should be taken to ensure that the rights, if any, accorded to a concubine should not have the effect of diluting the status or right of the legally wedded wife as enunciated in the Act's preamble passed by Parliament.
However, the Bench said Section 2(F) of the Act postulated the right not only of a married woman but also "of a woman whose relationship is in the nature of a marriage" to invoke the provisions of the legislations for getting her grievance addressed.
Similarly, it said Section 3 of the Act also stipulates that a wife or a woman, who is dependent on a man in a relationship and if subjected to economic deprivation, is entitled to seek remedy from a court for her maintenance.
New Delhi: Observing that a "one-night affair" cannot lead to the conclusion that a woman is a concubine, the Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on whether a woman in an intimate relationship with a man for a longer period without marriage is entitled to maintenance.
First Published: Wednesday, October 06, 2010, 20:45