To cover a relationship under Section 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act, possibility of a legal marriage is sine qua non

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mangesh S. Patil, J., dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge who reversed the judgment of the Judicial Magistrate allowing the application filed by the revisioner under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The revisioner belong to Jain Hindu community and was previously married to one Shantaram Mahadu. Subsequently, on separation, she had an affair with Respondent 2, a Muslim by religion. The revisioner converted to Islam and contracted marriage with him. However, dispute arose and the couple separated. The revisioner filed an application under Section 12 which was opposed by Respondent 2 mainly on the ground that marriage between the two was not legally possible as they had prior subsisting marriages. However, the Magistrate allowed the application, which decision was reversed by the Sessions Court in the impugned judgment.

The High Court interpreted the words “relationship in the nature of marriage” appearing in Section 2(f) which defines “domestic relationship”. Noting the interpretation of the words by the Supreme Court in Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469, as well as Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755, the High Court observed that all live in relationships are not in the nature of marriage. Not all live in relationships are covered by Section 2(f). It is only those which qualify to be in the nature of marriage that are governed by the provision. In order to constitute such relationship, a legal marriage between the two must be possible. Since, in the instant case, first marriage of the revisioner was still subsisting, there could not have been a possibility of a legal marriage between her and Respondent 2. Further, a statute should be interpreted in a manner which would not promote illegality. Section 2(f) could not be interpreted in such a way so as to promote adulterous relationships. Thus, it was held that the instant relationship was not covered under “domestic relationship”, and the revisioner was not entitled to any relief under the Act. The revision was, accordingly, dismissed. [Reshma Begum v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1827, dated 25-07-2018]

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