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Ms. Akansha Vajpayee


This tradition allows the wife in some tribes to live separately from her husband and with another guy. This is known as Nata. There are no required formal ceremonies in this. Only mutual consent exists. Even today, several tribal communities in Rajasthan continue to engage in this activity. This practice and live-in relationships in contemporary society are extremely similar. It is still believed that the purpose of Nata Pratha was to enable widows and abandoned women to participate in society.

It is not necessary to have a legal marriage to cohabitate under this arrangement. Couples are able to fulfill all responsibilities of a husband and wife without getting married. According to the custom, after the lady's first husband leaves the marriage and gives his wife to another man in exchange for money, a man must pay money to have a contemporary live-in relationship with a woman of his choice. The "bride price" is decided upon by intermediaries who may be compensated with a commission from the community. Depending on the person's ability to pay, the amount could range from a few thousand dollars to possibly a few lakhs.

For instance, if a guy wishes to live with a married woman, he must pay the man's spouse a certain sum of money. The woman's husband releases her once he is happy with the payment, at which point she is free to live with the other man who made the sacrifice. This is known as Nata.

In Nata circumstances, the issue that arises is maintenance. Is the woman qualified to demand support from her legally wed husband now that she has started living with another man?



125 CrPC's Purpose and Jurisdiction


If a person with sufficient resources neglects or refuses to provide for his wife, children, or parents, there are many statutes that allow for the filing of an application for grant of maintenance or interim maintenance. The many laws each offer a separate remedy that is structured with a particular goal and purpose. As a measure of social fairness, maintenance laws have been implemented to give recourse to dependent wives and children for their financial support in order to save them from experiencing destitution and vagrancy.


According to Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution, "Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children." The Constitution of India's Article 15 (3), strengthened by Article 39, which envisions the State playing a constructive role in fostering change toward the empowerment of women, has occasionally led to the implementation of several laws.


In his ruling in Captain Ramesh Chander Kaushal v. Mrs. Veena Kaushal & Ors (i) Justice Krishna Iyer stated that the purpose of maintenance laws is: This provision is a measure of social justice and was specifically enacted to protect women and children and is covered by the constitutional protections of Article 15(3), which is further strengthened by Article 39. We are certain that the parts of statutes that require judicial interpretation are not dead words but rather alive words that serve societal purposes. If interpretation is to be socially relevant, it must take into account the constitutional empathy for the weaker groups—such as women and children—that looms over the process. With this in mind, it is possible to choose carefully between two interpretations and chose the one that promotes the cause—the cause of the derelicts.

The Special Marriage Act of 1954 ("SMA"), Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005 ("D.V. Act") are the laws that have been drafted regarding the issue of maintenance. These laws offer women, regardless of the religious community to which they belong, a statutory remedy.

The Supreme Court was debating how Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code might be interpreted in Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse (ii). The Court declared: The provisions of Section 125 CrPC ought to be accorded a purposeful construction. The Court is dealing with the disadvantaged groups of society when deciding on an application from an impoverished wife, helpless children, or helpless parents under this Article. In the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, "social justice" is referred to as the fundamental vision. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution makes it quite plain that we have chosen the democratic route under the rule of law in order to secure justice, liberty, equality, and brotherhood for all of its residents. It emphasizes specifically realizing their social fairness. As a result, the courts have a moral obligation to advance the cause of social justice. The court is expected to close the gap between the law and society while interpreting a specific provision.


Maintenance in Nata Vivah instances


If a woman has solemnized a Nata Vivah, the fundamental question that arises is whether she meets the definition of a wife as stated in Section 125 of the CrPC.

According to the ruling in Roop Singh v. State of Rajasthan,(iii) Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, permits Hindu Marriages to be solemnized in line with the traditional rites and ceremonies of either side. It follows that a marriage solemnized in accordance with the traditional rituals and ceremonies of either party is a legal union. According to Sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, either partner may perform the customs and ceremonies for their own Hindu wedding. In this case, there is no question that a "Nata" marriage is lawful in the community to which the parties belong and that the woman in such a marriage is a legally weeded wife.

In Boli Narayan vs. Shiddheswari Morang,(iv) it was ruled that Section 125 of the CrPC makes it clear that protecting spouses, kids, and parents is a measure of social justice. It is the core of the fundamental obligations contained in Article 51A and comes under the purview of Articles 15(3) and 39 of the Constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution, which calls for guaranteeing social justice for all, served as the legislative's source of inspiration. To enable the provision to fulfill its social role, which is the driving force behind its enactment, the code words printed on it must be explained. Constitutional empathy for the weaker parts of the body necessitates a socially relevant interpretation. When two acceptable interpretations of a word can be made and one of them supports the cause of the derelicts, the meaning should be accepted. Both divorcees and their spouses are entitled to maintenance. The existence of a marriage knot is not a prerequisite for such entitlement because it is attainable both when the bonds of marriage are still present and when they are severed by divorce, where the marriage connection is severed. Both a wife and an ex-wife are entitled to support, with the exception of the restrictions outlined in Section 125. It is crucial to consider why the term "wife" was used by the Legislature rather than "legally married wife" or "a married wife" in order to understand the point that has been asked.


Even in the absence of a formal marriage ceremony, a woman must fall under the definition of "wife" if she enters a man's life, gives herself to him, adopts his family, and he employs her in that capacity. The mere acceptance of a woman as a wife, the direct or indirect announcement of the status, and the woman herself accepting the position are sufficient to put her under the ambit of Section 125. The perspective fulfills "the social purpose" for which the Section was created. If it were rejected, a woman who lived as a wife and gave her life for her husband but was not legally married would be excluded from the section's application.


In Saudamini Dei v. Bhagirathi,(v) it was noted that, unlike civil proceedings where the legality of marriage is a key issue, determining whether a relationship of husband and wife exists for the purposes of Section 125 CrPC does not require strict proof of all the formalities of a particular form of legal marriage.


By requiring the man to fulfill his moral commitment, Section 125 of Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, offers a quick and straightforward solution for paying maintenance to neglected wives, parents, and children. It is not required to get into legal nuances in such a brief proceeding. The case's facts and circumstances showed that the man and the lady cohabited as husband and wife, received community support as such, and were treated as such by the man. His unambiguous statement was contained in the Panchayati Patra. Therefore, it might be assumed that there was a marriage for the purposes of Section 125's narrow proposal.


Claiming maintenance does not require Strict Proof of Marriage.


According to Chanmuniya vs. Virender Kumar Singh Kushwaha (vi) strict proof of marriage shouldn't be a prerequisite for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC in order to fulfill the true spirit and essence of the advantageous provision of maintenance. Instead, a broad and expansive interpretation should be given to the term "wife" to include even those cases where man or woman have been living together as husband and wife for a reasonable amount of time.


The Hon'ble Supreme Court noted in Dwarika Prasad Satpathy vs. Bidyut Prava Dixit (vii) that, "Unlike matrimonial proceedings where strict proof of marriage is essential, in the proceedings under Section 125 CrPC, such strict standard proof is not necessary as it is summary in nature meant to prevent vagrancy.”


Relationship in a Marital Relationship


It is clear from the discussion above that Nata Vivah itself doesn't necessitate rites and ceremonies in the traditional sense. Additionally, according to judgements of higher courts, Section 125 of the CrPC does not strictly require proof of marriage in order to claim support. Therefore, we can conclude that Nata Marriage has certain similarities to contemporary live-in relationships. However, it must be understood that merely residing in a Live-In does not entitle one to maintenance. The existence of a relationship in the nature of marriage between a man and a woman must be demonstrated.

In D. Velusamy vs. D. Patchaiammal,(viii) the court mentioned the Domestic Violence Act and pointed out that Section 2(f) of the Act defines a domestic connection as one that is "in the nature of marriage" as well as a marriage.

The bench defined the phrase "relationship in the nature of marriage" because the Act does not define it. The bench ruled that only live-in relationships that meet the following conditions (common law marriage conditions) will qualify as relationships in the nature of marriage:

The pair must present themselves to the public as being comparable to spouses.

To get married, they must be of legal age.

They must also meet all other requirements for a valid marriage, including being single.

They had to have lived together voluntarily and pretended to be spouses to the outside world for a considerable amount of time.

Furthermore, it was maintained that merely spending weekends together or having a brief encounter did not constitute a domestic partnership. It would not be a marriage-like arrangement if a guy has a keep whom he supports financially and uses mostly for sexual purposes and/or as a servant.


Adultery is committing Nata Vivah without first divorcing.

According to Bhanwari vs. Bhanwaria, (ix) adultery will be committed if a husband marries a woman through Nata Vivah without divorcing his first wife.

When referring to the Brahmin community, it was claimed in Vishnu Prasad vs. Smt. Durga Bai (x) that the nata vivah custom did not exist among the Brahmin community. Therefore, if a Brahmin man marries without first obtaining a divorce from his first wife, it constitutes adultery.




Based on the foregoing discussion, it can be concluded that in order to be eligible for maintenance, a woman who entered into a nata marriage must prove the following: That the nata vivah custom is observed in their community (Mandatory to Prove) All mandatory rites and ceremonies for the solemnization of nata vivah observed in either Husband-wife's community were observed. Each community has its own version of these fundamental rites and ceremonies. The woman must demonstrate that she has been residing in a situation that amounts to a relationship with the characteristics of marriage (either this must be proven or the following one).





(i)        AIR 1978 SC 1807


(iii)  1999 CriLJ 1739

(iv)  1981 CriLJ 674

(v)   1982 CriLJ 539

(vi)  (2010) 10 SCALE

(vii) (1999) 7 SCC 675

(viii)  Criminal Appeal no 2028-2029 of 2010 Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) Nos.2273-2274/2010]

(ix)   1980 WLN UC 476

(x)    S.B.CIVIL Appeal no. 242/2006, Raj HC



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