LAWS AND JUDGEMENT RELATED TO LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA
Author: Ritika Rajkumar
The live-in relationship may be referred to as “Continuous cohabitation for a significant period, between partners who are not married into each other in a legally acceptable way and are sharing a common household.”
Live-in relationship, that is living together as a couple without married to each other. Recently live-in relationships are increasing due to various reasons. Indian society has observed a drastic change in its living pattern for few years. Humankind is gradually broadening their minds towards the idea of pre-marital sex and live-in relationships.
However, this change has been continuously under criticism and discussed as such concepts lack legality and acceptance by society.
The reason for individuals choosing live-in relationships is to check compatibility between the couple before marriage. It also exempts partners from the chaos of family drama and lengthy court procedures in case the couple decides to disperse. With time many incidents have been reported and observed where partners in a live-in relationship or a child born out of such relationship have remained vulnerable for this reason such relationships have been kept outside the realm of law. There has been obscene gesture by the partners in live-in relationships since they do not have any duties and responsibilities to perform.
There was no specific legislation, social rules, or customs in India regulating the matter of live-in relationships. Supreme Court has taken the liberty to elaborate on the concepts through its judgment at various times and issued guidelines to deal with such a relationship.
Laws in India
The Indian law does not provide any obligations or rights to the individuals of live-in relationships. However, the court has provided a neat clarification about the concept of a live-in relationship through various judgments. Various laws as discussed below-
Domestic Violence Act,2005
A domestic relationship means a relationship between two persons who live, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household when they are related by consanguinity, marriage or a relationship like marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Pwdva) this law has acknowledged live-in relationships by giving rights and protection to those females who are not legally married, but living with a male in a relationship which is in the idea of marriage, however not equivalent to wife.
Criminal Procedure Code,1973 (CrPC)
Section 125 CrPC was incorporated to avoid vagrancy and neediness for a wife or youth children or old age parents and the same has now been extended by judicial interpretation to partners of live-in relationships.
It expresses that if a female has been in a live-in relationship for some time, she ought to have the legitimate privileges as that of a spouse and can claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC. Where partners live together as husband and wife, a presumption would arise in favor of wedlock.
Judicial Response to Live-in Relationships
The goal of the Indian judiciary is to relinquish to the partners of live-in relationships who were earlier not protected by any statute when subjected to any abuse arising out of such relationships. The judiciary is neither promoting such a concept nor prohibiting such a set of relationships. It is, however, just concerned that there should not be any miscarriage of prejudice.
Following are the guidelines are given by Supreme Court:
Duration of Period of Relationship
Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act has used the expression at any point of time’, which means a reasonable period to maintain and continue a relationship that may vary from case to case, depending upon the situation.
Pooling of Resources and Financial Arrangements
Be beneficial to each other, financially, sharing bank accounts, acquitting immovable properties in joint names or in the name of woman, long-term business investments, shares in separate and joint names, to have a long-standing relationship.
Imposing the responsibility, especially on the woman to run the household, do the household activities like cleaning, cooking, maintaining the house, etc., is an indication of a relationship like marriage.
Not just for pleasure but emotional and intimate relationships, for procreation of children, to give emotional support, companionship and also caring, etc.
Sharing the responsibility for bringing up and supporting them is a strong indication of a relationship.
Legal Status of Children Born out of Live-in relationship
When the Supreme Court for the first time held the rightness of child or children born out of a live-in relationship, the Supreme Court said, "If a man and woman are living under the same roof and cohabiting for some years, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate."
When dealing with a recent case, the Supreme Court told that a child born out of such a relationship will no longer be considered as an illegitimate child.
In another case, the Supreme Court held that a child born of a live-in relationship may be allowed to inherit the property of the parents and therefore be given legitimacy in the eyes of law.
On 31-03-2011, Supreme Court remarked that irrespective of the relationships hadto be viewed independently of the relationship of the parents.
This live-in relationship provides the couple a great chance to know each other well with the freedom to disperse the relationship according to their wish. But they have to face many legal and social hurdles. This kind of relationship puts females often in a disadvantageous position. The Supreme Court has issued guidelines for regulating live-in relationships and also for protecting the rights of women involved in this relationship and child or children born out of it, has been described above.