As the name suggests, Live-In relationship is an arrangement of living where two people live together as married couples but they are not formally married. This type of relationship is formed to learn to live together and be compatible with each other. Partners living in a live-in relationship are not bound legally and have no obligations like a married couple. The concept of a live-in relationship first started in the West and due to modernization and globalisation, live-in relationships are now famous in India as well. The concept is new for Indian society and is still not acceptable in many parts of the country. People believe that live-in relationships decrease the importance and essence of marriage. On the other hand, people support live-in relationships as it helps in the foundation of a marriage.
There is no statute explicitly mentioned for live-in relationships and the judiciary makes judgements based on the facts and circumstances of the case. The Indian judiciary focuses on the welfare of the people, their protection of liberty, and their own will of living. Therefore, it has a neutral view of live-in relationships. Usually, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005 regulate and checks on the live-in relationships related cases as per the requirements of the case.
Cases related to Live-in Relationships in India
On December 4, 2020, the Allahabad HC in the case, Lata Singh Vs State of UP ⟮(2006) 2 SCC (Cri) 478⟯ declared that live-in relationships are not an offence and the partners can live freely without the interference of the families. The partners living together should be unmarried and of heterogeneous sex.
In the case of Payal Katara v. Superintendent Nari Niketan Kandri Vihar Agra and Others (2001), the Allahabad HC declared that a woman, being 21 years old and legally a major, has the right to live with anyone if they wish.
In the Radhika Vs State of MP case, the court declared that a man and woman living together for a long period may be considered as a married couple and their child would be called legitimate.
In the case, Madan Mohan Singh & Ors. Vs Rajni Kant & Anr, the court held that the live-in-relationship if continued for a long time, it cannot be termed as a “walk in and walk out” relationship and there is a presumption of marriage between the parties.
The court, therefore, frames laws based on the facts and circumstances of the case. In many judgements live-in relationships were considered as married and provisions for alimony and maintenance were also described. Like the terminology used in the USA, alimony for the couple living in a live-in relationship is called “palimony”. The term palimony is used when a man having a live-in relationship deserts the woman with whom he has been living for quite some time. The woman has the right to claim palimony from the man.
Because of the social taboo, live-in relationships are considered immoral and are misunderstood with the relations of Mistress, Concubine, and Cohabitants. In India, marriage is considered as the purest form of two individuals, and everything except marriage is considered impure and immoral. In the patriarchal society in India, women are considered wrong or as a “keep” in a live-in relationship. They are seen as immoral and are defamed in society. Therefore, more laws are required for the protection of the people being a part of live-in relationships, especially women. Legal rights and legal remedies are necessary for such relations.
Society expects consistency from the judiciary concerning such sensitive issues. The judiciary while dealing with such issues should have a pragmatic approach rather than a pedantic one. It is our submission that it is not appropriate to legalize all kinds of live-in-relationships that lack seriousness. In this regard we should not blindly follow what is happening in other countries as the societal structure of our country is different from theirs. At the same time, we should not ignore to consider the real pulse of our society in the light of day-to-day surrounding activities.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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