SHILLONG, Dec 05: The re – inclusion of the term ‘live in relationship’ in the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2017 and its Rules, 2015 has been sought by the Seng Kur ka Mei-Sin bad ki Khun Jong Ka (SKMKJK) which argues the necessity of this move due to the prevalence of such relationships in the state.
In this regard, clan president, PBM Basaiawmoit has shot off a letter to Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma on Tuesday expressing the SKMKJK’s hope that Dr. Sangma, through his government will bring in a further amendment to the said Act and Rules this year itself.
The proposed amendment was sought after the words ‘live in relationship’ were deleted from the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage (Amendment) Act.
Ironically, while Meghalaya deleted the words ‘live in relationship’ from its 2015 amended Act, the Supreme Court, on 13 April, 2015, recognized ‘live in relationship’ as not being illegal and therefore, not a crime, Basaiawmoit said.
He also pointed out that a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla O. Pant had observed that, “In modern times, live in relationship has become an acceptable norm. It is not a crime.”
Basaiawmoit also pointed out that in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Parliament had inserted the phrase ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ and not ‘live in relationship’.
“From the point of view of our clan, we strongly feel that instead of the phrase ‘of living together or cohabitation not covered by their respective personal laws’ as inserted by the 2017 amended Act, the words or phrase inserted in the 2012 principal Act should be re-inserted, i.e. ‘live in relationship’ or the phrase inserted in the 2005 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, viz. ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’. Again, the aforementioned have to be qualified,” he said.
Basaiawmoit said with reference to the term or phrase ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’, the Supreme Court had this to say, “Merely spending weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a ‘domestic relationship’.
It also held that if a man has a ‘keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage.
With reference to ‘live in relationship’, he said the Supreme Court has made it clear that if a man has a live in arrangement with a woman only for sexual reasons, neither partner can claim benefits of a legal marriage.
Further, the Clan also suggested that there must be modus operandi to register or record keeping of such live in relationship in that such couples, must register their live in relationship within a stipulated period otherwise, alimony and palimony will not be obtainable should either of them, desert the other, particular the woman, after having given birth to one or more children.
Stating that the only person or authority which can vouchsafe of such a relationship will be the village or local headman or village or local traditional institution, Basaiawmoit said therefore, such a person or local authority should be vested with the position of being local registrar for live in relationships.