By Vinodh A M – MADURAI

Published: 05th May 2014 08:08 AM


If you thought rural Tamil Nadu is soaked in archaic beliefs, especially over live-in relationships, you could be way off mark. A Dalit woman in Theni has won a legal battle to enforce a “parting compensation clause” in a live-in contract she had entered into with a caste Hindu man. The woman

P Eswari and her live-in partner A Pandian had on March 17, 1999 registered a ‘marriage’ contract at the Sub Registrar’s office in Theni. In the contract, they had agreed to live as man and wife but inserted a clause saying if one of them chose to part ways then he/she would pay the other `40,000 as compensation or maintenance.

A few years later Pandian married another woman Lavanya and refused to pay the maintenance sum to Eswari. Following this, Eswari filed a petition before the Uthamapalayam Judicial Magistrate in July, 2002 claiming maintenance from Pandian as per Section 125 of the CrPc. After a decade-long trial, the magistrate dismissed her petition in February 2012 on the grounds that she has not proved the factum of marriage with Pandian. Aggrieved by this, she approached the High Court.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice P N Prakash, Eswari’s counsel citing Supreme Court’s ruling in the Chanmuniya vs Virendra Kumar case, held that it would be sufficient if it is shown that the parties were living as husband and wife. Agreeing, Justice Prakash observed that the trial court had failed to properly appreciate the evidence on record. Setting aside the magistrate’s order, Justice Prakash remanded the matter back to the trial court for fixing the quantum of maintenance payable to Eswari within six months.


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