Alienation of Affection II

Within the meaning of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005  (“Act”) it must be established at the very outset that the “aggrieved person”, the woman, shares a “domestic relationship” with the Respondent. Section 2(f) of the Act, which defines a “domestic relationship”, includes within its ambit live-in relationships. Live-in relationships may very well be a “relationship in the nature of marriage”; but that conclusion is not to be drawn always. A relationship where an unmarried adult woman knowingly lives in with a married adult male is certainly not a “domestic relationship” within the meaning of the Act. These are some of the recent observations made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma, [2014 (14) SCALE 448] (“Indra Sarma”).

Close on the heels of the judgment of Hon’ble Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan in Pinakin Mahipatry Rawal v. State of Gujarat  (“Pinakin”), which was discussed previously, and in which it was observed that “possibly, in a given case” a wife could seek compensation, in monetary terms, from the party who disrupts her marriage and could bring an “alienation of affection” tort action – comes Hon’ble Justice Radhakrishnan’s fine observation in Indra Sarma that the Appellant therein had lived-in with the Respondent knowing fully well that he is married and has children; and that, therefore, the Appellant had committed the intentional tort of “alienation of affection”. While in Pinakin, Hon’ble Justice Radhakrishnan’s voice seemed slightly unsure – in Indra Sarma, it has been held unambiguously that such a tort “gives a cause of action to the wife and the children of the Respondent to sue the Appellant for alienating the husband/father from the company of his wife/children”.

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