SC says woman in live-in relationship to be considered wife unless proven otherwise

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court has has ruled that an unmarried couple living together under the same roof are now going to be presumed married, and the woman would be eligible to inherit any legal property after death of her partner.


According to this Times of India report, a two-judge bench of Justices MY Eqbal and Amitava Roy, said in the case of couples living together marriage would be until proven otherwise.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

The bench reportedly said, "It is well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage, when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long time. However, the presumption can be rebutted by leading unimpeachable evidence. A heavy burden lies on a party who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin."

The order came in response to a property dispute where a family contested that their grandfather was not legally wedded to a woman he had lived with for 20 years and that she was his mistress, despite living in the joint family with them.

The court passed the order in a property dispute where family members contested that their grandfather, who was living with a woman for 20 years after his wife's death, was not legally wedded to the woman and she was not entitled to inherit the property after his death. They contended that she was their grandfather's mistress.

Despite the woman failing to prove that she was legally wedded, the court presumed that she was the legal wife after family members admitted that his grandfather had a relationship with the woman who was living with them in the joint family.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled in favour of couples living in together, with the woman having all the rights that a wife would in a legal marriage.


In 2013, under the Domestic Violence act, the Supreme Court had come up with some guidelines to protect the woman in a live-in relationship, including duration of relation, shared household and pooling of resources, reported NDTV.

Earlier last year, after a petition filed by advocate Uday Gupta, a Times of India report said that the SC had said children born out of prolonged live-in relationships could not be termed illegitimate.

Gupta challenged a Madras High Court observation, that stated "a valid marriage does not necessarily mean that all the customary rights pertaining to the married couple are to be followed and subsequently solemnized".

“Where a man and woman are proved to have lived together as husband and wife, the law will presume, unless the contrary is clearly proved, that they were living together in consequence of a valid marriage, and not in a state of concubinage,” the bench concluded.


Published Date: Apr 13, 2015 11:44 am | Updated Date: Apr 13, 2015 11:47 am


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