LIVE-IN-RELATIONSHIPS IN INDIA
A live-in-relationship is a relationship where both partners live-in under one roof without marriage. It can be termed as cohabitation between the partners. In simple terms, it is a relationship in which both the partners enjoy their individual freedom without any responsibility of the other partner. In such a case, no laws tie those persons and they can leave each other at any time and this kind of relationships provide for a life free from commitment and responsibility. There is no legal definition of live-in-relationship and so there is no provision of it in Indian law.
Status of live-in-relationship in India:
The live-in-relationship where two individuals lives together under one roof without being married has been in practice for a long time. In the earlier days, it was considered immoral and was not at all allowed but with the change of time the people’s thinking and mindset is also changing and now the live-in is in practice. But still there are many people who are against this and considers it immoral. The definition of live in relationships is not clear and so is the status of relationship. There is no specific law on live-in in India and it is not recognised by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. There is no legislation to define the rights of the people in live-in-relationships. The outlook of people has changed over the years especially the way of the judges in the Courts see them now and because of verdicts given in different cases. But India has still not recognised any such kind of relationships because of old and traditional values and beliefs.
In the absence of statute, the courts have taken the view in many cases like the first case in which the Supreme Court recognized the live-in-relationship as a valid marriage was Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation, in which the court gave legal validity to a 50 year live-in-relationship of a couple.
In the case of Tulsa & others v. Durghatiya & others, the Supreme Court provided that the children born out of cohabitation for a considerable amount of time and under one roof so that the society recognises them as hudband and wife.
The Allahabad High Court in Payal v, Nari Niketan, held that live-in is not illegal. Court said it may be immoral for the society but is not illegal. Again in case of Patel & others, Supreme Court held that there is no law which says that live-in is illegal.
Status of female in live-in-relationships:
The female who is not formally married, but is living with a man in a relationship, which is in nature of a marriage, is similar to wife. Section 2(f) of the Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines domestic relationship which include not only the relationship of marriage but also a relationship ‘in the nature of marriage’.
In a case, the Delhi High Court held the female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage has right to file complaint not only against the male partner but also against his relatives.
Status of children in live-in-relationship:
When a child is born out of a live-in-relationship the first and foremost question asked is about his legitimacy. Despite the increasing trend of couples entering in live-in-relationship, the children born from these relationships face serious legal implications. As per the existing law and social framework it is only children who are born to the married couple are legally entitled and recognized in the society. Living without marriage has not been recognized till date.
In the case of SPS Balasubramanyam v. Sruttayan, the SC had 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. This was a landmark case wherein the Supreme Court for the first time upheld the legitimacy of the children born out of a live-in relationship. The court interpreted the statute of such a child to be in concurrence with Article 39(f) of the Constitution of India which lays down the responsibility of the State to provide the children with adequate opportunity to develop in a normal manner and safeguard their interests.
The Supreme Court also took the initiative to protect the children of live-in couples. Supreme Court held that the child born out of live-in relationship will be allowed to inherit the parent’s property. At present there is no legislation which deals with the concept of live-in relationships.
Though the courts have given many landmark judgments still it is not acceptable. There are many people who still believes live-in relationships are immoral and are not allowed in our traditions and customs. By interpreting the cases and the landmark judgment we can conclude the issue. The society prefers to have children born out of proper legal marriage and they consider only those children as legitimate. Also, there has been steady growth in the live-in relationships with development in people and with change of time the mindset and thinking of the people is changing. This change is all over the world and with that India is also changing.
As per Hindu Succession Act, 1956, whether a child is born out of live-in relationship or out of marriage, the child has the right in the property, he will not be considered illegitimate and his right will not be strike out.
There are people with old thinking but still there are chances of changes. To bring a clear idea and to avoid all the confusions and loopholes, the law should be made clear and amendments should be made to the ambiguous terms in present laws. The courts should grant clarity on the status and rights of children born out of a live-in relationship.
Ideal Institute of Management and Technology, 2nd year (BALLB)