New Delhi : Settling an order of the Kerala High Court, the Apex Court of the country Supreme Court has ruled that ‘illegitimate’ children of a couple who have been together for a long time without getting married can also get a share of the family property. The top court was considering a petition filed against a High Court order in which the plaintiff’s parents had rejected the claim of property share of an alleged illegitimate child on the grounds that they did not attend the marriage.
However, observing that the couple had been living together for a long time, the apex court observed that their relationship is akin to a marriage. The Supreme Court said that both of them may not have been married, but both have lived together as husband and wife for a long time. In such a situation, if it is proved that the child belongs to both of them, then the child has full right on the property of the father.
The bench, in its judgment, clarified, It is well established that if a man and a woman have lived together as husband and wife for a long period of time, the same shall be treated as marriage.” The Bench made it clear that such an inference can be made under section 114 of the Evidence Act. The top court, in its order, said, “It is well settled that if a man and a woman live together as husband and wife for a long time, there shall be a presumption in favor of the marriage. Section 114 of the Evidence Act. under such inference may be made.
It also said that the trial court, on examination of the evidence on record, had observed that the couple Damodaran and Chiruthakutty were living together for a long time.According to the plaintiffs, Damodaran married Chiruthakutty in 1940. However, there is no direct evidence of their marriage. The first Vadi Krishnan was born in the year 1942.
Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Vikram Nath said, “The documents produced by the plaintiff were in existence long before the dispute arose between the parties. These documents along with the evidence are the documents of the husband and wife between Damodaran and Chiruthkutty. as indicating a period of long cohabitation. The court also referred to its earlier order, which held that “law favors legality”.