Apex court for law to give maintenance to ‘second wife’


New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said there was need to develop a concept of palimony (on the lines of alimony) in order to give compensation to a man’s “second wife” if she is deserted after the couple have lived together.

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“Why shouldn’t we develop a law on the lines of palimony – as is done in the American state of California – in order to compensate the ‘second wife’, who can’t claim alimony under the Hindu Marriage Act,” said an apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur.

The court appointed advocate Jayant Bhushan as amicus curiae to assist the court.

The concept of palimony was developed in 1977 by the California Supreme Court in Marvin vs. Marvin case. The concept has its origin in a case wherein Michelle Triola Marvin filed a suit against actor Lee Marvin seeking maintenance compensation.

Though Michelle did not succeed in her suit but her celebrated divorce attorney Mitchelson coined this word by merging the words “pal” and “alimony”.

Michelle Marvin claimed that in 1971 she and actor Lee Marvin who was already married started living together.

Michelle claimed that she was promised support for life by actor Lee Marvin.

She lost the suit because she could not prove the contract between the two that gave her a share in the actor’s property. However, since then the law on palimony has developed considerably.

On Monday, the apex court pulled up petitioner D. Velusamy who took the cover of the definition of “wife” under the Hindu Marriage Act to deny his second wife D. Patchaiammal any compensation.

Justice Katju said: “For 14 years you enjoyed her company and now you want to escape the (payment of) compensation.”

“You enjoyed her youth and now you pay her,” said Justice Katju.

When petitioner‘s counsel argued that under the Hindu Marriage Act he was under no obligation to pay alimony to his “second wife”, Justice Katju said: “We know that. Don’t pay her alimony but pay her palimony.”

In the instant case, Velusamy, in his second wedding, married Patchaiammal in 1986. In 2001, she filed a maintenance suit. The Madras High court granted her the maintenance of Rs.500 per month.

Velusamy challenged the grant of Rs.500 monthly maintenance to Patchaiammal.