The 3 Judge Bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice KM Joseph observed the applicability of a live in partner seeking maintenance under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The reference was made by a two judge bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph in Lalita Toppo vs. State of Jharkhand to a larger bench to seek clarity on the following questions:

  • Whether the living together of a man and woman as husband and wife for a considerable period of time would raise the presumption of a valid marriage between them and whether such a presumption would entitle the woman to maintenance under Section 125?
  • Whether strict proof of marriage is essential for a claim of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC having regard to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005?
  • Whether a marriage performed according to the customary rites and ceremonies without strictly fulfilling the requisites of Section 7(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, or any other personal law would entitle the woman to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC?


The Bench was of the view that the aforementioned questions as made in the reference did not need to be answered as questions sought in the referral order were on the basis of the judgments of the Apex Court in Yamunabai Anantrao Adhav vs. Anantrao Shivram Adhav and another and Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya vs. State of Gujarat and others, which were rendered prior to the coming into force of the DVC Act, 2005.

However, while disposing off the appeal, the Bench has stated that the appellant has the option of seeking a remedy under the provisions of the DV Act as the provisions of Section 3(a) of the DV Act are applicable in the sense that the economic abuse constitutes domestic violence as stated in Explanation I (iv) as follows:

“(iv) “economic abuse”includes-

  • deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a Court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;
  • disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and
  • prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.”


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Order Link: Lalit Toppo Versus State of Jharkhand and Others (Courtesy- LiveLaw)