Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has asked a Magistrate here to decide on the relationship between a woman from Goa and a Srinagar resident before deciding a complaint which was filed before it on September 25, 2019 under Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2010.
A bench of Justice Javed Iqbal Wani also quashed the Magistrate’s order of September 25 2019 whereby the Srinagar resident was asked to pay Rs 10,000 as monthly maintenance to the woman.
The Magistrate had also restrained the Srinagar resident and his family members from “harassing and torturing” the woman and creating any domestic violence in any manner. He had directed the Station House Officer (SHO) concerned to act as “protection officer” and directed the officer to ensure the implementation of the order in its letter and spirit.
The woman in her complaint before the Magistrate had stated that she and the Srinagar resident were in a “live-in-relationship” for quite a long time which "relationship" was endorsed and acknowledged by the rest of the family members of the Srinagar resident.
She had also claimed that the Srinagar resident took around rupees one crore from her and that only Rs 12.95 lakh was paid back to her.
Aggrieved of the order, the Srinagar resident moved the High Court, seeking its intervention to quash the proceedings before the Magistrate. He claimed that he and the woman had never lived in a shared household and that he had never been in a domestic relationship with her either in consanguine, marriage, adoption or any other relationship.
The Srinagar resident contended that in absence of any relationship between him and the woman, the complaint ought not to have been entertained.
The counsel representing the Srinagar resident N A Ronga contended that the concept of “live-in-relationship” the woman claimed to be with the Srinagar resident, does not fall within the definition of section 2(a)(f) of the Act of 2010. The same, he said, figures in the provisions of section 2(a)(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005. “The provisions of the Act of 2010 governed the field and as such the Magistrate had no jurisdiction either to entertain the complaint to initiate proceedings or else pass any interim order”, he argued.
On the other hand, counsel for the woman from Goa contended that that while the Act of 2010 was applicable on the date of filing of the complaint, yet “there is presumption in favour of marriage even in the live-in-relationship having continued for a considerable period of time unless the contrary is proved.”
“While the woman had been in a live-in-relationship with Srinagar resident for a considerable period of time and thus the relationship has in essence given rise to strong presumption that the woman and Srinagar resident have been married,” he said.
In its order, the court said it was necessary for the Magistrate to first decide the preliminary issue regarding nature and character of the relationship between the duo before proceeding to dealing with the matter on merits regarding the entitlement or otherwise of the complainant to the reliefs claimed by the woman.
The Court quashed the order dated 25.9.2019 and directed the Magistrate to decide in the first instance the preliminary issue, which decision, it said, ultimately would decide the fate of the complaint.