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Long Cohabitation Will Not Confer Any Legal Right To Raise A Matrimonial Dispute: Madras High Court

Aaratrika Bhaumik
4 Nov 2021 4:36 AM GMT
Long Cohabitation Will Not Confer Any Legal Right To Raise A Matrimonial Dispute: Madras High Court
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The Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that long cohabitation or living together will not confer upon the parties any legal right to raise a matrimonial dispute unless their marriage has been solemnized in accordance with law. A Bench comprising Justices S. Vaidyanathan and R. Vijayakumar was adjudicating upon an appeal moved by a woman seeking for the restitution of conjugal rights with...

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The Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that long cohabitation or living together will not confer upon the parties any legal right to raise a matrimonial dispute unless their marriage has been solemnized in accordance with law.

A Bench comprising Justices S. Vaidyanathan and R. Vijayakumar was adjudicating upon an appeal moved by a woman seeking for the restitution of conjugal rights with a man who she was not legally married to. Accordingly, the Court upheld the order of a Family Court in Coimbatore.

"When the marriage has not been solemnized under any one of the enactments, even assuming that there was long and continuous cohabitation or the parties were living together will not give rise to a cause of action for filing an application for restitution of conjugal rights. Long cohabitation or living together will not confer upon the parties any legal right to raise a matrimonial dispute before the Family Court, unless their marriage has been solemnized in a manner known to law", the Court observed.

In the instant case, the appellant, a mother of two children had been previously married to her first husband who had subsequently deserted her. She alleged that she had thereafter obtained divorce from him. She further contended that in 2013 she had married the respondent in the presence of close relatives and friends. It was further alleged that she and the respondent had even exchanged rings and he had also put metti in her toes during the ritual.

Claiming that she had given large amount of money to the respondent after the reported marriage, the petitioner claimed that he had begun to live away from her from May 2016 and thereafter she had filed a petition before the Family Court seeking restitution of conjugal rights.

On the other hand, the respondent alleged that no marriage had taken place between them and that a civil suit had been initiated by him before a District Munsif Court in Coimbatore to restrain the petitioner from claiming him to be her husband. He further stated that he was a Christian and the appellant was a Hindu and thus the alleged marriage had taken place neither in the Christian way nor the Hindu way. It was further pointed out that the marriage had not been registered under the Special Marriage Act.

Opining that the appellant was still married to her first husband since a divorce decree had not been obtained, the Court observed,

"The Appellant has claimed that she had obtained a decree for divorce from her first husband, she has not chosen either to file the copy of the order or even refer the date and case number in her petition. These facts will clearly point out that the Appellant herein is a married woman and she has been deserted by her husband and she has not obtained divorce through Court. This will clearly show that the Appellant continues to be the wife of another person whose name, the Appellant has not chosen to disclose."

The Court further opined that a Family Court has got jurisdiction to entertain proceedings for restitution of conjugal rights only between parties to a marriage.

"In the present case, this Court has already observed that there is no marriage at all between the Appellant and the Respondent herein. In such circumstances, the Family Court does not have any jurisdiction to entertain an application for restitution of conjugal rights", it was observed further.

Accordingly the petition was disposed of after upholding the trial Court's verdict.

Case Title: R. Kalaiselvi v. Joseph Baby

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