Can civil liability be fastened in live-in relationships? SC calls upon AM Singhvi to assist
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Can civil liability be fastened in live-in relationships? SC calls upon AM Singhvi to assist

Aditya AK

In a long-standing live-in relationship turned sour, will a man be liable to compensate the woman in order to protect her interests?

The Supreme Court yesterday floated this proposition while hearing an appeal from a decision of the Karnataka High Court. The Bench of Justices AK Goel and S Abdul Nazeer has requested Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi to assist the Court in this regard.

The Bench was hearing an appeal by one Aloka Kumar, against whom charges of rape and cheating were leveled by his ex-lover, with whom he was in a live-in relationship for six years. The prosecutrix had contended that the petitioner had persuaded her to have sexual relations with him though she was unwilling to do so. It was alleged that she went through the same as she was under the misconception that the petitioner would marry her.

When the family of the prosecutrix asked whether the petitioner would marry her, he had flatly refused. Thereafter, a police complaint was filed against the petitioner and a charge sheet was filed for offences under Sections 376 and 417 of the Indian Penal Code. A slew of other charges was also leveled against the family members of the petitioner.

The petitioner then moved the Karnataka High Court with a view to quashing the charges against him and his family. However, the High Court dismissed his petition on January 31 this year, holding that the allegations were broadly sufficient to constitute the offences alleged.

Whether the prosecutrix actually consented to the sexual relations or she did so under the misconception of marriage would have to be determined by the trial court, the High Court held.

Aggrieved by this decision, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court. In his petition, he contends that the Apex Court has earlier held that consensual sex on the promise of marriage does not amount to rape. Further, it was argued that the FIR states that the parties were in love and the relationship was consensual. It was also put forth that he was being falsely roped in with a view to pressurizing him to marry the prosecutrix. One of the issues raised in the petition are:

Whether the Hon’ble High Court did not fail to appreciate that, assuming without admitting the Petitioner did not adhere to his promise for marriage, would that itself amount to rape and cheating especially looking at the length of the relationship between the parties?

The petition was filed by AoR Yugandhara Pawar Jha and advocates Kunal Verma and Piyush Bhardwaj represented the petitioner.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, the Court mooted the idea of affixing civil liability on the petitioner in case it was proven that the sexual relations were consensual.

“…whether, on account of long cohabitation, even if the relationship is held to be consensual and the petitioner is not held liable for the offence alleged, the petitioner can be fastened the civil liability treating the relationship to be de facto marriage in view of long cohabitation. This interpretation may have to be considered so that a girl is not subjected to any exploitation and is not rendered remediless even if a criminal offence is not made out…”

The Court also noted that a similar petition filed by the petitioner’s family members had come to be filed, in which the Bench of Justices AK Goel and Rohinton Nariman had stayed the proceedings. The Bench in the present case decided to grant similar relief to the petitioner. Both matters will be heard together on the next date of hearing, September 12.

Meanwhile, the Court sought the assistance of Singhvi as Amicus in the matter. It also issued notice to Attorney General KK Venugopal and asked him to depute an Additional Solicitor General to assist the Court.

Read the order:

Live-in-relationship-SC-order.pdf
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Read the SLP:

Aloka-Kumar-SLP.pdf
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