The apex court also said the law presumes against concubinage and favours marriage when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long time.
A bench of Justices MY Eqbal and Amitava Roy said this while dealing with a case of property dispute where family members contested that their grandfather, who was living with a woman for 20 years after his wife's death, was not legally wedded to her.
They had contended that the woman was a mistress and not the legally-wedded wife of their grandfather and, therefore not entitled to inherit the property after his death.

However, after dealing with the facts of the case and citing previous apex court judgements, the bench said, "it is well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage, when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long time."
"However, presumption can be rebutted by leading unimpeachable evidence. A heavy burden lies on a party, who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin," it said.
It also cited an apex court judgement which said "where a man and woman are proved to have lived together as husband and wife, the law will presume, unless contrary is clearly proved, that they were living together in consequence of a valid marriage, and not in a state of concubinage".

The court said that in the present case, there was strong presumption in favour of the validity of marriage and the legitimacy of its child as the relationship of the man and the woman was recognised by all persons concerned.

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