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Live In Relationship In India – Pros, Cons And Laws Pertaining to It

Introduction

In India, there are various traditions and customs, being followed and also the Indians are very much protective as well as possessive about their traditions and customs. Indians basically resist changes in their practices but still, there have been dynamic changes that took place in the customs & traditions along with acceptance towards modernization like widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage etc. also there are some practices struck down with time that were being done in the name of customs like the abolition of sati system, abolition of child marriage. The very recent changes we have seen in the Indian Society is adultery is not more an offence under Criminal law but it is a ground of divorce and also decriminalisation of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code,1860. All with these drastic changes in our society, there is one more concept that has evolved in modern era i.e. Live in relationship.

What Is Live In Relationship

Let’s understand what is Live-in relationship; it is that relationship where the parties to the relationship share a same household as a couple or in a continuous cohabitation being under one roof without being married to each other.

For the very first time, this concept was brought to the court in 1978.  This concept of live in relationship was first discussed and recognized in the case of Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation,[1] in this case, the Apex Court gave the validity to a live in couple who lived together as a couple for 50 years; the court interpreted it as a valid marriage and hence, recognition to live in relationship.

This relationship is somewhat identical to the marriage institution yet there are some differences between these two concepts. The concept of marriage is defined under law or under personal laws like Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Muslim Personal laws etc but there are no such specified laws regarding live in relationship.

The institution of marriage in India is considered as sacred and socially recognized to be mandated to perform while the people in India are still hesitant to accept the concept of Live in relationship. the parties to the marriage are recognized as one in the eyes of law and in the eyes of society while the parties to live in relationship has to hide their relationship in front of society because they do not accept any such couple who are living together without being married.

The institution of marriage brings various rights and duties to the parties but the live in relationship is somewhat inclined towards more freedom or it is a kind of walk-in and walk-out relationship. The status of child born out of marriage is clear in the law while the status of child born out of live in relationship is given by expanding the scope of laws, no specified laws are provided in this regard.

Pros of Live In Relationship

The pros of live in relationships are as follows –

1) Lesser responsibilities: there are very few responsibilities towards partner in a live in relationship as compared to marriage. There are no social responsibilities or as such there is no established legal bond between the parties to live in relationship.

2) Lesser legal issues: as compared to the institution of marriage, there are no as such legal issues that can arise between the parties. These relationships are more of walk-in and walk-out relationship.

3) Financial freedom: it is believed that there is financial freedom to the parties of live-in relationship.

Cons of Live In Relationship

The cons of live in relationships are as follows –

1) Non acceptance in society: this is a fact that society especially in India is still hesitant of accepting such relationship and it becomes hard for the live-in couple to survive in the society where they are not accepted.

2) Lack of commitment: in this relationship, there is very less or zero probability of commitment and if they are committed, then also there is possibility of walking out of the relationship.

Laws Pertaining To Live In Relationship

Earlier, the status of live in relationships was that there were no laws that were safeguarding the interest of the party being victim of any abuse in a live in relationship.

There are no such specific laws regarding live in relationships in India but there is recognition granted by some judgments of judiciary and by expanding or interpreting the scope of existing laws which are as follows:

Constitutional Law of India –

There are rights like right to freedom of speech & expression and right to reside or to resettle in any part of India under Article 19. Also there is right to life and personal dignity that also includes the person’s wish of residing with the partner of one’s choice. This also has been observed by the Apex court in the case of Khushboo v. Kanniammal,[2] that the live in relationships are included in the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It was also stated that the live in relationship may be wrong in the eyes of society but not in the eyes of law; it is permissible that two major people are living with each other.

Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 –

to understand this, we have to go to the definition of live in relationship i.e. if two major are living together in a domestic relationship sharing the same household as a couple; here two expressions “domestic relationship” and “shared household” which the court has taken into account to protect the interest of women living in live in relationship. The expression “shared household” is given under section 2(s) of Protection of woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Also, Section 2(f) of the Act that deals with “domestic relationship” is applicable not only to the couple who are married but also to the couple who are residing in a live in relationship. Live in relationship is nothing but the court has considered it as a relationship in the nature of marriage as per given in the section 2(f).

For the purpose of live in relationship, domestic relationship is a relationship between two persons who are either living or have lived in a relationship in a nature of marriage.

The Supreme Court gave certain guidelines to determine the relationship which includes in the ambit of “relationship in the nature of marriage” in the case of Indra Sharma v.  V.K.V Sharma[3], which are as follows:

1) The term shared household has been given under section 2(s) of Protection of woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which in a layman term can be understood as the household where a person (aggrieved) either lives or has lived in a domestic relationship with the respondent.

2) The expression “at any point of time” has been given under section 2(f) of the Act which means the reasonable or the considerable period of time.

3) There are financial arrangements made between the parties in order to support each other reflects a relationship in a nature of marriage.

4) The domestic arrangements which are especially taken care of by the female also reflect the relationship in a nature of marriage.

5) The relationship in the nature of marriage is also reflected by the care and emotion along with consented cohabitation between the parties.

6) The relationship in the nature of marriage may also be reflected when the parties socialize themselves in public as husband and wife.

In case of D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchalammal[4], there are five ingredients of a live-in relationship have been told by the Apex Court which is as follows:

1) The parties to the live-in relationship must of valid legal age of marriage i.e. 18 years for a girl and 21 years for a boy.

2) The parties to live-in relationship must either be living together or have lived together sharing the same household.

3) Either of the party to the live-in relationship must not have a living spouse at the time of entering to the live-in relationship.

4) The parties to the live-in relationship, both, must behave as a couple i.e. husband & wife and also they are recognized as a couple by the society.

5) The parties to the live-in relationship have cohabited with each other’s consent for a considerable period of time.

In the case of Madan Mohan Singh v. Rajni Kant[5] the court observed that the live-in relationship when continued for a very a long time cannot be expressed as a walk-in and walk-out relationship.

Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:

This section provides for the maintenance to the women irrespective of their religion i.e. this is a secular section, woman of any religion can seek maintenance under this section. By way of judicial interpretation, the court has granted the maintenance to the female residing in the live in relationship. Women can also seek maintenance under section 20(1) (d) of Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

In the case of Chanumuniya v. Virendra Kumar Singh[6] the Apex Court observed that if the female and a male have lived together for a considerable time period, the woman is entitled for maintenance if the man deserts her even though the couple may not have fulfilled the legal necessities of a valid marriage.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872:

In case of Tulsa v. Durghatiya & Ors.[7] , the apex court said that on reading Section 50 with Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872, it is clear that the marriage is presumed by the common course of natural events.  It was further stated that the presumption of a marriage is existing arises and becomes strong when the partners or the parties to the relationship have lived together for a long time period and behaved as husband and wife. In the same case, it was further stated that the child who takes birth as a result of such relationship, will not be no longer considered an illegitimate child.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956:

After the Amendment of 2005, the women are given the right of ancestral property and self-acquired property as that of a son irrespective of her marital status. That means regardless of the fact she is married or in a live in relationship, she has her right to parental property by her birth itself.

Also according to Section 10 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the distribution of property takes place among all the living heirs and if there is a widow of a legal heir then she is entitled to gain his husband’s share. Similarly, the woman in a live in relationship was allowed to receive the property by way of inheritance from her partner; held in the case of Vidhyadhari & ors. v. Sukhrana Bai & Ors. 2008.

Adoption:

In 2018, the couples of live in relationship have been barred from adopting a child by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. The reason behind that is such couples are not considered stable families. Also, it is believed that people pursue live in relationship because of less responsibilities and the responsibility of child is extensive; there is a question what if any of partner walk out.

Legal Status of Child Born Out of Live In Relationship

The birth of the child to the couple of live in relationship strongly condemns the relationship as in the nature of marriage. Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with the right of inheritance of the children and provides for the legitimacy of a child or the legal status of a child even for an illegitimate one, therefore, the inheritance rights are in favor of the children born out of a live in relationship.

By virtue of Section 114 of Evidence Act, 1872, the child born out of a live-in relationship will not be considered illegitimate, it was observed in the case of S.P.S Balasubramanyam v.  Suruttayan[8]

Conclusion

The conclusion of this whole discussion can be drawn as the live in relationship is neither a crime nor a sin but it may be morally wrong in the eyes of society but not in the eyes of law. The Indian society does not accept live in relationships because of lack of commitment but however, the legal status has been provided to it by the judiciary by interpreting the existing laws; no such specific laws have been made for the live in couples as that of marriage. The Apex Court has tried providing protection to the women and the child that born out of live in relationships. The judiciary has tried to cut down the disadvantages of live in relationship by way of expanding the scope of laws but as per my opinion, there is a need for the enactment of proper legislation.

[1] AIR 1978 SC 1557

[2] (2010) 5SCC 600

[3] (2013) 15 SCC 755

[4] (2010) 10 SCC 469

[5]  (2010) 9 SCC 209

[6] (2011) 1 SCC 141

[7] (2008) 4 SCC 520

[8] AIR 1994 SC133

This article has been written by Deepshikha Gautam, B.A. LL.B student at Banasthali Vidyapeeth.

Also Read – How Article 14 Of Indian Constitution Is Helpful In Maintaining Equality In Gender Justice

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