Lawstreet Journal

Does a woman in a live-in relationship have the right to pension?: Madras high court refers the question to larger bench [READ ORDER]

Lawstreet Journal 15 Jun 2021 1:58am

Image courtesy: Lawstreet Journal Judiciary Does a woman in a live-in relationship have the right to pension?:  Madras high court refers the question to larger bench [READ ORDER]

The Madras High Court recently referred to a larger Bench a petition filed by the second wife of a deceased man seeking disbursement of her husband’s pensionary benefits to her (Malarkodi v. The Chief Internal Audit Officer).

The facts of the case

S Kaliperumal(who works for the Tamil Nadu Electric Generation and Distribution Corporation in Kumbakonam)was married to Sushila his first wife ( his nominee in official documents). 

Sushila was suffering from cancer, so he married Sushila's sister Malarkodi. All three were living in the same house. The couples have three sons and three daughters. Subsequently, Sushila died. 

In 2015, Kaliaperumal made an application to make his first wife the nominee to his pension account.  His sons and daughters agreed. However, he passed away before the process was completed. 

After her husband’s demise, an application made by the petitioner(Malarkodi) to the Chief Internal Audit Officer for withdrawal of the pension amount from his account was rejected. Consequently, the current petition was filed before the High Court.

A single-judge bench comprising of Justice S Vaidhyanathan referred to the question for due consideration of the larger bench.  He noted that the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not permit second marriage while the first wife is still alive. 

However, he observed that as per the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, if the live-in-relationship is established, then the woman attains the status of a wife. The march of law happens only while considering the co-habitation that, continues after the death of the first wife.

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Tagged: Madras High Court  
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