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Madras HC: Pre-marital sex equals ‘marriage’, must get ‘divorced’ to ‘marry’ another

According to the Madras high court an unmarried couple of legally marriageable age is considered married once they have pre-marital sex, and the ‘husband’ in such marriage cannot marry someone else without getting a court decree of divorce from the ‘wife’, reports the Hindu.

Gems from justice Karnan’s order:

“[…] if any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations… Legal rights applicable to normal wedded couples will also be applicable to couples who have had sexual relationships which are established.”

“It is not disputed that the petitioner has been a spinster before she gave birth and that the respondent was a bachelor before developing sexual relationship with the petitioner. Both of them led their marital life under the same shelter and begot two children. Therefore, the petitioner’s rank has been elevated as the `wife’ of the respondent and likewise, the respondent’s rank has been elevated as the `husband’ of the petitioner. Therefore, the children born to them are legitimate children and the petitioner is the legitimate wife of the respondent.”

He said that either party to a relationship could approach a family court for a declaration of marital status by supplying documentary proof for a sexual relationship. In this case, the man had officially admitted that the woman was his wife, by signing the ‘live birth report’ of his second child and giving his consent for a Caesarean section for the birth, according to the court. Furthermore, he ordered the ‘husband’ to pay monthly maintenance of Rs 500 to his ‘wife’. [The Hindu]

Update: Firstpost criticises The Hindu report of the judgment and headline (Couples who have premarital sex to be considered ‘married’) as sensationalist, arguing that the judge, despite a number of obiter “incendiary statements”, “is clearly ruling on the issue of domestic partnership, awarding rights to couples who may not legally married but have lived together in every other way as spouses”.

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