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Supreme Court Rejected Plea for Review of its Judgment Describing a Woman as Keep

The Supreme Court of India rejected a petition of women’s organisation Mahila Dakshta Samiti which sought the review of court’s earlier verdict describing a woman cohabiting with a man as a keep

Mar 18, 2011 11:56 IST
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The Supreme Court of India, on 16 March 2011, rejected a petition of women’s organisation Mahila Dakshta Samiti which sought the review of court’s earlier verdict describing a woman cohabiting with a man as a keep. The petition said that the expression keep used for woman was derogatory. It discriminated against women on the basis of marital status. The court said that Mahila Dakshata Samiti's review petition could not be entertained, beacuse the samiti was not a party to the case either before the trial court,high court and the apex court. 


In its judgment delivered by a bench of Supreme Court comprising Justices Markandey Katju and TS Thakur on 21 October 2010, ruled that if a man had a keep whom he maintained financially and used mainly for sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage for her to claim the benefits of live-in to get maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Merely spending weekend together or a one-night stand would not make it a domestic relationship.

The Supreme Court had made the observation while setting aside a Madras High Court verdict that recognised the second woman in the life of D Velusamy as his wife and awarded her maintenance of 500 rupees per month.


The Mahila Dakshta Samiti said that the use of expressions such as keep, one-night stand and sex with a servant were derogatory to women and is in contrary to what has been envisaged by Article 51A (e) of the Constitution of India. The samiti sought a direction to delete the observations made in the judgment, mainly the interpretation of the expression, relationship in the nature of marriage, in Section 2 (f) of the Protection of the Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. 

 
According to the Samiti, the expression such as keep which refers to woman, is based on social and cultural prejudices which need to be removed in order to prevent discrimination. The expression would propagate social and cultural prejudices and is based on the idea of stereotyping woman.


Important Information
Article 51 A (e) of the Indian Constitution: to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.  Article 51A (e) comes under part IV of the Indian constitution as fundamental duties.


Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women.


 Article 2(F) has a provision for the States to take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish the existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women.  Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.  India is not a party to the CEDAW.

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