Supreme Court: Long cohabitation between man and woman raises strong presumption in favour of their marriage

The Supreme Court in the case Kattukandi Edathil Krishnan vs Kattukandi Edathil Valsan observed and reiterated that long cohabitation between a man and women raises a strong presumption in favour of their marriage.

the bench comprising of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and the Justice Vikram Nath observed that a heavy burden lies on him who seek to deprive the relationship of legal origin to prove that no marriage took place, Although, the presumption is rebuttable.

Facts of the Case:

The plea filled by the plaintiff in the partition suit contended that the suit property belonged to one Kattukandi Edathil Kanaran Vaidyar who had four sons viz. Damodaran, Achuthan, Sekharan and Narayanan. The first plaintiff, born in the wedlock with one Chiruthakutty is the son of Damodaran and it was also seen that the second plaintiff is the son of the first plaintiff. Before the Court it was contended by the defendant that all the children except Achuthan died as bachelors and Karunakaran is the only son of Achuthan. The contention of the plaintiffs that Damodaran had married Chiruthakutty, was denied by them and that the first plaintiff was the son born to them in the said wedlock. The Trial court concluded that concluded that Damodaran had married Chiruthakutty and that the first plaintiff was the son born in the said wedlock as Damodaran had a long co¬habitation with Chiruthakutty. A preliminary decree was passed by the Trial Court for partition of the suit property into two shares and one such share was allotted to the plaintiffs. The High Court held that there is no evidence to establish the long cohabitation between the father and the mother of the first plaintiff and the documents only proved that the first plaintiff is the son of Damodaran, but not a legitimate son, while allowing the appeal of the defendant.

Issues And Challenges

Before the Apex Court, the appellant plaintiff contended that the voluminous documents produced by them would show that Damodaran was the father of the first plaintiff and Chiruthakutty was the wife of Damodaran. On the other hand, it was contended by the Defendant that there is no proof whatsoever either of the marriage or of the long cohabitation. The Apex Court considered the issue that weather there is sufficient evidence to prove the long cohabitation to establish the relationship of husband ¬wife between Damodaran and Chiruthakutty?

in favour of wedlock, there would be a presumption.

The Court observed, while examining the documents and the evidence on record that the plaintiffs have proved long duration of cohabitation between Damodaran and Chiruthakutty as husband and wife. Furthermore, the Court noted that the defendants have failed to rebut the presumption in favour of a marriage between Damodaran and Chiruthakutty on account of their long cohabitation.

The Court while allowing the appeal and while referring to various judgement observed:

there would be a presumption in favour of wedlock, if a man and a woman live together for long years as husband and wife Such a presumption could be drawn under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. Although, a heavy burden lies on him who seek to deprive the relationship of legal origin to prove that no marriage took place, the presumption is rebuttable.

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