GUWAHATI: In a landmark order, the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Imphal East, in Manipur has directed a woman to pay Rs.70 lakh as compensation to the legal wife of a man with whom she has been in a live-in relationship.
The court ordered Yambem Puni, a well-known model, to pay Dr Ranjita Achom, the legal wife of Dr. Konsam Shyamsunder, a monetary compensation of Rs.10 lakh for “causing loss of consortium, nervous shock and also for causing mental distress”; another Rs.10 lakh for “lowering the reputation of the legal wife” in the eyes of the society, and a monetary compensation of Rs.50 lakh for “punitive or exemplary damages.”
Dr Ranjita and Dr Shyamsunder had been in an affair which culminated in their marriage in 2009. The marriage was registered at the registrar of marriage. The couple has three children. Dr Ranjita (41) is a doctor attached to the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal while Dr Shyamsunder is a promoted IAS who works under the Manipur government.
Dr Ranjita had moved the court alleging that the 33-year-old model, who is serving as the panchayat secretary in RD & PR department, had maintained an “illicit” relationship with Dr Shyamsunder, thus causing untold distress.
The court’s observation was that the intentional tort of causing the loss of consortium is still governed by the common law and not by any enacted or statutory law in India. Viewing the case as unique, the court said it was a suit filed against a woman living with the husband of a legally-married woman. Dr Ranjita had sought a compensation of Rs.10 crore for the damages caused and a permanent injunction against the woman for “causing loss of consortium, and mental agony”.
Referring to a case of 2013 in the Supreme Court, the Civil Judge said, “Live-in relationship with a married person amounts to intentionally alienating one spouse from the other – it is an important tort – wife and children of the married party can sue the other party to relationship for damages”.
“The Supreme Court held that marriage and family are social institutions of vital importance. Alienation of affection in that context is an intentional tort which gives a cause of action to the wife and children of the respondent to sue the appellant for alienating the husband/father from the company of his wife and children knowing well they are legally wedded wife/children of the respondent,” the judge said while making a mention of another case.
Referring to an application which Yambem Puni had filed praying for review of the interim injunction, the judge said, “…It all shows that defendant No 1 (Yambem Puni) is not going to step back despite knowing the fact that whatever she is doing is legally wrong, immoral and breaking a well-settled family life piece by piece”.
Yambem Puni submitted that she was the second wife of Dr Shyamsunder following their “Loukhatpa ceremony” (it recognises the unsolemnised union of husband and wife) in 2016 but the court did not look into the status. The judge said Yambem Puni’s live-in relationship with the IAS officer was a case of committing the offence of bigamy.