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Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     23 October 2010


Even as the Supreme Court tried to define the contours of domestic partnerships and give unmarried women in long-term relationships some of the legal benefits of marriage, it found itself embroiled in a nasty spat about words and ends.


The judgment by Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur sought to clarify the cases in which a woman was entitled to maintenance — when both partners were in an acknowledged consensual relationship for a significant length of time. One night stands and occasional weekends did not count, said the bench, and that "if a man has a 'keep' whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for s*xual purpose and or as a servant", it would not be akin to marriage. Assistant Solicitor General Indira Jaising strongly objected to the language of the judgment and demanded that words like "keep" be expunged from the Supreme Court ruling. "The expressions are very derogatory and reflect badly on women. Language should reflect our commitment to gender equality," she asserted. At which point Justice Katju told the upset Jaising to confine herself to the case itself, and Justice Thakur wondered whether the word "concubine" might have been preferable?


This is the laughable, tragic bind that women face. In essence, this judgment is a progressive moveto extend rights to relationships outside marriage. And yet, it's expressed in unwittingly s*xist terms. A few months back, the Supreme Court observed that a woman's word should be sufficient in cases of rape and s*xual assault, but again, worded it in the vocabulary of izzat and victimhood. Words are inseparable from intentions — they betray the patriarchal lens in which women are viewed as passive and acted-upon, rather than rights-bearing agents in reciprocal relationships. Those who deploy words like "keep" and "concubine" are likely to view these partnerships as asymmetric in a particular way and deprive these women of the rights and benefits they deserve. Either way, no matter how avuncular and well-meaning, certain terms should be off-limits, at least for institutions like the Supreme Court. And the searching seen in court this week for a more appropriate voca-bulary should be notice that, in progressive law-making and judgments, language itself is a measure of social change.


 16 Replies

hedevil hydraheaded (non professional )     23 October 2010

Tragic but not laughable certainly. And one does not sit quite in the face of such patriarchal tragedies which has been happening in women's lives for centuries. It is certainly against the spirit of CEDAW and BPFA--the blue prints of women's human rights. 

 The apex court of the country needs to be using a non s*xist language. You are right Mr. Makkad. Language influences thought processes and vice versa and systems and ideologies shape up our language.' Keeps' and concubines are not only words but a way of looking at women and that's where they hurt and arouse legitimate anger, a precursor to lobbying for a transformation in the way judgments are worded. 



Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     23 October 2010

GBA may urge SC to replace ‘Keep’ with ‘Informal Lady’ in Live in Relations case

MIL/GBA, Oct 22, 2010
Dr. Raj Baldev, Cosmo Theorist, Lead Man GBA

1 Like

Renuka Gupta ( Gender Researcher )     23 October 2010

You have a point hedevil_H

You have articulated so well what I too wanted to. 

How come you call yourself hedevil?????? Are you the same as hedevil whose funny post I saw in the morning. 

Democratic Indian (n/a)     24 October 2010

Such kind of words are not expected from anybody, especially the judges. By using such words they have lowered the already withering dignity of Indian courts in the eyes of people.

Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     24 October 2010

Exactly, This was not expected from "Apex Court", since then there will be no difference between the perception of common man and Justices/judges. Here they must use decent/superlative/refine language.

it might would have happened accidently rather deliberately, since both the Hon. Justices are very sensible.


wat else word wud u suggest here?

it is not a livin relation ship which is one to one commitment.

any suggestions.

Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     24 October 2010

Sony Ma'm

Here is the suggestion, u may go thru it,

GBA may urge SC to replace ‘Keep’ with ‘Informal Lady’ in Live in Relations case

MIL/GBA, Oct 22, 2010
Dr. Raj Baldev, Cosmo Theorist, Lead Man GBA

Vishwa (translator)     25 October 2010

The stated objective of Indian legislators is to empower women. But their actions are always tending to make the 'kept' status of women permanent by giving them an increasng amount of sops. Equality means just that - equal in all respects. I really do admire those women who are able to earn their lives and stand up on their own feet, instead of cringing around asking for maintenance.


Avnish Kaur (Consultant)     26 October 2010

read citation carefully, does informal lady appear appropriate in this case.

had this man had no wife this word was appropriate.

Roshni B.. (For justice and dignity)     26 October 2010

the meaning of lady:(

  1. A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior.
    1. A woman regarded as proper and virtuous.
    2. A well-behaved young girl.


when this so called lady got willingly got involved with a married man,does the word "lady" even suit her?

the defination says she's virtuous.  is she?

do virtuous ladies get involved with married men even when they know he has wife and kids at home?

people who disagree will say "women are soft & v.emotional by heart". so they get trapped.


if that be so,then why dont all Indian women "get trapped" by married men?

the simple reason being some have moral values and some do not have.the latter need convenience and benefits  without committment.

second reason is they dont know how to control their emotions.So it doesnt mean they have to be preferred over the wife who left her parents' home for this unfaithful  man..






very imp..question why dont all Indian women "get trapped" by married men?



second reason is they dont know how to control their emotions.

This is the most imp.reason behind them .many of bollywood actress married to those men who are divorced .why ?Probably  the second reason.

Roshni B.. (For justice and dignity)     26 October 2010

so the solution lies in developing a sound emotional health since childhood and good moral upbringing also.

if need be,psychiatrist's help or psychological counselling can also be helpful otherwise "highly emotional women" pose a threat to "wives".

kushan u dint comment on the morality aspect that i raised.

dont moral values have any role?

Roshni B.. (For justice and dignity)     26 October 2010

why dint women 50-60 yrs. bak not get involved with married men?ok they were confined to home..

yet why dint they have affiars with their brother inlaws,servants etc who lived in same house ?

was it that women were less emotional than now?

or was it that they had a good moral upbringing coz of which they had high moral values?


Avnish Kaur (Consultant)     26 October 2010

today women are liberated. they have 498a coupled with legal terrorist trainer like mrs.parbhaker. so they are avenging the supression which they were subjected to over thosands of years.

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