Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Whether live in partner of husband will have more right over property than legally wedded wife after death of husband?

New Delhi: A woman doesn't have a claim to her partner's home over that of his wife, the Delhi high court has said in an important ruling on legal rights in a live-in relationship.
Justice Najmi Waziri on Tuesday came to the rescue of a 78-year-old widow, a US citizen, by restoring to her possession of a Greater Kailash property owned by her husband. The senior citizen, who now lives in the US, married an Indian businessman in 1963 and was forced to move court when she was ousted from her matrimonial home following her husband's death last year.
"A live-in or mistress or survivor in a bigamous relationship does not enjoy the status of marriage, hence she does not get the protection of law for maintenance," Justice Waziri said referring to Supreme Court rulings. The court made it clear that the US citizen, being the legally wedded wife of the businessman, had a better claim to his property over that of the live in partner.

Dealing with the other woman's claim to the house HC noted "her live-in status, assuming to be true, would not confer upon her any better right in law to dislodge the wife's lawful right to the matrimonial home. During the subsistence of a marriage, while there may be silent tolerance of a live-in relationship by the wife, the live-in status doesn't have the approval of law to oust the rightful and legal status of the wife in the matrimony. The live-in would be, at best, an unwanted guest in the wife's matrimonial home."
Setting out the legal position, HC said "a wife's possession of the matrimonial home is a legal and natural corollary to the bond of marriage vis-a-vis a third party or stranger to the matrimony, such as a live-in."
In her suit, the widow informed the court the couple began living in the GK house from 1989. In between when her mother fell ill in the US, she went back and stayed with her till her death, her plea added.
The suit narrated how the couple went to the US again in 2013 when the husband was diagnosed with cancer and was admitted in New York for prolonged medical care. But he lost the battle after a year long fight. To her shock, when the widow returned to India she found her husband's home had been taken over by the woman claiming to be his live in partner.
The partner maintained that the dead businessman willed the house to her and she was in its lawful possession, a claim rejected by the HC. The court however left it open for both to settle the legality of the Will in court.

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