Case 5:DHANNULAL AND OTHERS V/S. GANESHRAM AND ANR. (SC-Decided on April 08, 2015.)

Hindu Succession Act

Woman in Live-In Relationship to be considered Wife cohabiting for a long time; to Inherit Partner’s Property after his death

In this matter, the woman (PhoolbasaBai)had been living with a man(Chhatrapati)as his wife for around 20 years until his death in the same house with the respondent-relatives who alleged that she was only a mistress and not the legally wedded wife.

Out of the wedlock of PhoolbasaBai and Chhatrapati, one son was born, whose name was MannuLal. The said son of Chhatrapati and PhoolbasaBai died unmarried.

PhoolbasaBai died during the pendency of the suit in the year 1992. The relationship of Chhatrapati and PhoolbasaBai has not been denied. It has also not been denied that they had been living together as husband and wife in a joint family.

“In the fact of the case there is strong presumption in favour of the validity of a marriage and the legitimacy of its child for the reason that the relationship of Chhatrapati and PhoolbasaBai are recognized by all persons concerned” the bench said.

The Bench quoting a case of A. Dinohamy vs. W.L. Balahamy, held that ‘where a man and woman are proved to have lived together as husband and wife, the law will presume, unless the contrary is clearly proved, that they were living together in consequence of a valid marriage, and not in a state of concubinage’.

In the instant case, instead of adducing unimpeachable evidence by the plaintiff, a plea was taken that the defendant has failed to prove the fact that PhoolbasaBai was the legally married wife of Chhatrapati.

Despite the woman failing to prove that she was legally wedded, the court presumed that she was the legal wife, after family members admitted that their grandfather had a relationship with the woman who was living with them in the joint family.