Legal Aid Available To Individuals In Live-In Relationships In India

Marriage is considered to be sacred in India. It is one the oldest institutions in which the father entrusts and gives the hand of his daughter to a decent groom, who after marriage becomes her husband. It occupies an essential and fundamental position in the organization of the family and it is impossible for one to imagine a family without a married couple and children. But as the society changed, so did the thinking and beliefs of the people and the concept of Live-In Relationships came to light.

Live-In Relationship is a situation where the unmarried man and the unmarried woman live under the same roof as husband amd wife, without undergoing the ceremonies of marriage, as established under V.K. V. Sarma. It is an escape route to avoid the obligations and responsibilities that one acquires with marriage. Marriage is a life long commitment with socio-legal pressures, whereas live-in relationships gives the partner in such an arrangement the freedom to walk out at any point of the relationship. This arrangement came into existence due to various factors like: saving the unnecessary expenditure on marriage, societal pressure amongst the homosexual community or the same sex couples of the society, Increase in the age of marriage, or avoiding legal hassles that follow in with marriage.

It was an unconceivable fact that in our conservative and tradition bound community the complication of live-in relationship would ever enter. This in turn lead to the ignorance of this possible scenario, and hence, no explicit acts are passed to aid the individuals in the live-in relationship, but still some recognition has been given and remedy has been provided. The only Act in India which really sheds light on cases of live-in relationships is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, under Section 2(f) which defines domestic relationship (even though live-in relationship has not explicitly been mentioned, but the judiciary has interpreted “in the nature of marriage” as live-in relationship), and Section 3 which defines Domestic Violence and provides legal remedy to aggrieved women living under the same roof as their offender. The Act does not talk about Live-in relationships, but it provides a remedy to the grievances one of the party in relationship may suffer. The mere recognition here helps identify the validity of Live-in relationships.

Even though live-in relationship couples are not authorised by the government to adopt a child, but the child born out this arrangement is considered legitimate under Section-16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, for the purpose of inheritance rights, available on both ancestral and self brought properties. The legitimacy granted to the child born out of this relationship gives acceptance to this child who otherwise face stigma and blotch in the society.

Though Live-in relationship has not been considered a crime by our judiciary yet due to insufficiency of any proper statute on the same, the courts are unable to provide proper succor to the aggrieved person. These relationships are the harsh reality of the society today and it’s high time for a statute to be enacted which would clear the status of live-in relationship in India.

Thiis article is authored by Pankhuri Pankaj, student of B.A. LL.B at Vivekananda Institute Of Professional Studies

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