D Velusamy vs. D Patchaiammal Case Summary 2010

D Velusamy vs. D Patchaiammal Case Summary 2010

In D Velusamy vs. D Patchaiammal case, the Court delved into whether the relationship between the appellant and the respondent fell within the purview of ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ or constituted domestic partnership as specified in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

COURT: The Supreme Court of India

BENCH: Justice Markandey Katju, Justice T.S. Thakur


  • The respondent, D Patchaiammal filed a petition with the Family Court in 2001, under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), claiming that she got married to the appellant on 14th September 1986 and that they had lived together for about two to three years in her father’s home.
  • After that period, the appellant moved out of the house and began staying in his hometown, but he returned occasionally. She stated she had no source of income and could not support herself, while the appellant is a Secondary Grade Teacher at Thevanga Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore, earning Rs.10,000/- per month and has demanded that she be paid Rs. 550 per month as her maintenance.
  • The appellant claimed he was married to a woman named Lakshmi, whom he married on 25th June 1980, as per Hindu Marriage customary rites. A male child was born out of wedlock, and he is a student at C.S.I Engineering College in Ooty. To prove his marriage to Lakshmi, the appellant presented his ration card, his wife’s voter identification card, his son’s transfer certificate, his wife’s discharge certificate from the hospital, photographs of the wedding, and other documents.
  • The Family Court, by judgment dated 5th March 2004, held that the appellant was married to the respondent and not to Lakshmi. The Madras High Court upheld the decision of the Family Court and hence, the appellant challenged the decisions of the Family Court and the Madras High Court in the Supreme Court of India.


  • Whether the appellant married Lakshmi before marrying the respondent?
  • Whether the respondent entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC?


  • Justice Markandey Katju: Section 125 of the CrPC provides for the maintenance of the wife and certain other relatives. In Section 125(1)(b) of the CrPC, the term ‘wife’ is defined as follows: “Wife includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from, her husband and has not remarried.”
  • Since no notice was given to Lakshmi and she was not heard, the lower courts made an error in law in ruling that she was not married to the appellant.
  • Section 20 (1)(d) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides for maintenance of an aggrieved party in addition to an order of maintenance under section 125 of the CrPC. Under the Act, economic exploitation of the aggrieved is considered domestic violence u if the aggrieved and the other party have a domestic relationship.
  • Under Section 2(f) of the Act, a domestic relationship encompasses a relationship in the nature of marriage. To qualify for the benefit of a “relationship in the nature of marriage,” the parties must meet the requirements for common law marriage, as well as have lived together in a “shared household,” as specified in Section 2(s) of the Act.


The Supreme Court opined that the High Court and the family Court Judge erred in law by ruling that the appellant was not married to Lakshmi without even giving her notice, which contradicts the principles of natural justice.

Thus, this finding must be overturned, and the case must be remanded to the Family Court, which can serve notice on Lakshmi and, after hearing her, issue a new finding under the law.

Only after the above finding can the matter of whether the appellant was married to the respondent be determined because if the appellant had been married to Lakshmi, then without the dissolution of that marriage, the marriage between the appellant and the respondent would not have been legally valid.

The apex court further held that the learned Family Court Judge’s decision did not determine whether the appellant and respondent had lived together in a relationship for a reasonable period that was in the nature of marriage. Such a finding was critical in reaching a decision in this case.

Therefore, the impugned judgments of the High Court and the Family Court Judge, Coimbatore were reversed, and it remanded the case to the Family Court Judge to determine the case anew under the law and considering the above observations. The appeals were permitted.


The essentials to constitute “relationship in the nature of marriage” under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, laid down by the Supreme Court in this case, is one of the most noteworthy facets of the judgment.

Despite widespread criticism that the judgment, in this case, confronted because of the use of certain objectionable terms, the decision in D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal remains the definitive pronouncement for the phrase “relationship in the nature of marriage,” as it has not been overturned by a larger bench of the Supreme Court.

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