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Indra Sarma v VKV Sarma: The Supreme Court on Live-in Relationships and Gay Marriage

Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy

In its decision in Indra Sarma v VKV Sarmahanded down a couple of days ago, the Supreme Court – correctly – holds that the term “relationship in the nature of marriage” in the Domestic Violence Act covers live-in relationships. This judgment is also extremely interesting, however, because of its possible impact on the legal status of homosexual relationships.

In this case, the Court was faced with a complaint of domestic violence, and had to determine whether a woman in a live-in relationship could claim under the Act. In order to do so, she would have to show that her relationship was covered under one of the enumerated grounds under the definitional Section 2(f) – which the Court read as exhaustive. The only possible ground was “relationship in the nature of marriage.”

S. 2(f), stated in full, reads:

“domestic relationship” means a relationship between two…

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