India being a conservative in nature, consider marriage as sacred. Till the end of 20th century live in relation was illegal in India. Though it has been legal from the beginning of 21st cent but the Indian society still cannot accept the fact of a couple staying together without getting married. For them it is a way to enjoy the benefit of cohabiting together without taking responsibilities of family and commitment.
Live in relation is an arrangement of a couple to live together under the same roof for a long term without getting married but it reassembles as a marriage. It is very common in western country. Live in relation is not a new concept in India. In the Vedas, there were 8 types of marriages, out of which live in relation was the one. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, girls had the right to choose their own husband, can meet each other of their own accord and can live in together without getting married. It was accepted in society as their relationship is consummated out of passion. According to Vedic record, this is one of the common forms of marriage in Rig Veda. Later the Indian society scenario changed as it encouraged sati pratha, no education for girls and regarded live in relation as a crime. Still people stayed together but hesitated to give a status in the society, but now the people are openly in this kind of relationship.
Five kinds of live-in relationships were identified by the Court:
- 1st – a relationship between an adult male and an adult female, both unmarried.
- 2nd – a relationship between a married man and an unmarried woman, entered knowingly.
- 3rd – a relationship between an unmarried man and a married woman, entered knowingly.
- 4th -a relationship between an unmarried female and a married male, entered unknowingly.
- 5th – a relationship between two gay or lesbian partners, which cannot be recognized a relationship in nature of marriage in India due to laws against homosexuality.
For young people it is very exciting to be in live in relationship as it is free from any commitment, legal hassles and responsibilities, but in real it is very tricky. In ancient months it has been seen that due to lack of legal framework about live –in-relationship, women are getting the right, respect after being in relation or after the man lives suddenly or abuses the women. The Supreme Court has asked Parliament to bring proper bill and amendment for the protection of women and children born out of live in relation. The bench said that the children born out of such relation suffer the most. Thus the Supreme Court included live in relation in domestic relationship in sec 2(f) of protection of women from domestic violence act 2005. Thus all this amendments giving live in relation a legal legitimacy.
The first case in which the Supreme Court of India first recognized the live in relationship as a valid marriage was in – Badri Prasad vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation, in which the Court gave legal validity to the a 50 year live in relationship of a couple. The Supreme Court has held that live in relationship between two adults without marriage cannot be construed as an offence. It further held that there is no law which postulates that live in relationships are illegal. The concept of live in relationship was again recognized in the case of Tulsa v. Durghatiya.
Alok Kumar vs. State, the Delhi High Court held that there is no obligation or liability in walk in and walk out relationship. This kind of relationship does not create any legal bond between the partners. It further held that in case of live in relationships, the partners cannot complain of infidelity or immorality.
The pre-requisites of such a relationship are:
a) The couple must introduce themselves to the society as a spouses.
(b) They must attain legal age to marry.
(c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.
(d) They must have voluntarily cohabited.
“The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 considers females who are not formally married, but are living with a male person in a relationship, which is in the nature of marriage, also akin to wife, though not equivalent to wife. Section 2(f) of the Act defines domestic relationship which means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family. Thus, the definition of domestic relationship includes not only the relationship of marriage but also a relationship `in the nature of marriage”
On 13 April 2015, the Supreme Court declared that couples living in live-in-relationships will be considered as legally married. The apex court also said that in case the man dies, then his partner would inherit his property. The child born out of such relation has the right to claim the inherent property.
Thus we can say, judicial is not ready to accept all live in relation as legally married. Only the stable and long term relation enjoys the benefit of the 2005 Act. Where parents sometimes even murder their children for marrying out of caste, many brave couples do live together without getting married. Live in relation can be immoral for our society but it is not illegal. Indian law is changing with the change in the scenario. The judiciary has accorded legality to the concept of live in relationship and has protected the rights of the parties and the children of live in couples which makes it unnecessary to formulate a law to clarify the concept so urgently.
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