Live-in relationships are arrangements where two partners choose to live together sharing a residence and support to each other. Unlike marriages which have a legal & societal status, they do not have a legal definition & framework in Indian Law.
Today live-in trend is a common pattern among western world. People prefer to test their compatibility, financial stability and their commitment capacity before marriage in order to avoid divorce.
In India, live-in relationships are not socially accepted. However, it is not true in big cities. Conservative values are found in village and rural areas, where it is considered a taboo.
The National Commission on Women recommended to the Ministry of Women & Children Development that a woman in live-in relationship must be included in definition of wife as described in section 125 of Cr. P.C.
The Supreme Court of India taking into consideration article 21 had held that live-in relationships were now even recognized by the legislature, and they had found a place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Even today, Live-in relations are in the ambit of debate and discussions. The ongoing controversy over the protection of women in such relation is recognized by the law.
Live-in relations are still not accepted in India because people still believe in the concept of marriage. Therefore, it becomes difficult to manage a relation which is not accepted socially by the people. The patriarchal power which defines marriages in India, have control over such relations too. Subject only to the limitation that their actions and choices should not cause harm to other and women should be protected by the courts.
Any small fight, disagreement or a misplaced thought can see either of the partner walking out of the relationship. It is observed that, either of the partner in live-in relation, walk out of the promise to marry after cohabitation on the grounds of excuses like religion, caste, age, astrological incompatibility, etc.
The following case study shows an analysis over such issue when appealed in the court.
Avishek Asit Mitra vs State of Maharashtra
The applicant and complainant got to know each other when they were working in the same five-star hotel. The complainant claims that the applicant indulged into physical relation after promising marriages on several occasions. Thereafter, the complainant became pregnant and was forced to get it aborted by the applicant.
Thereafter, the applicant forced himself on her. And later started avoiding and neglecting her. A complaint was lodged by the complainant to the police and the case was referred for mediation. The applicant again promised to marry her in front of everyone and after few days he refused to do the same.
The women again approached the police that registered a case of cheating and rape against that man. The applicant had submitted that since horoscopes of the applicant and the complainant did not match and being the case of astrological compatibility.
- Can a promise of marriage be broken on the ground of mismatch of kundali?
- Can live-in relationship come under the definition of rape?
The court was of the opinion that the applicant in the guise of astrological incompatibility of the horoscopes, avoided the promises. And it was case of false promises which vitiates the complainant’s consent.
The facts emerging from the material or documents on record taken, disclose the existence of all ingredients constituting alleged offence under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. The application was thus rejected.
Live-in relationships are now very popular in India as well. The court notices the act being non-criminal, but may be immoral in the society. Everyone has different thoughts and perception which leads to acceptance and non-acceptance of such relationships.
Awareness has to be created in the young minds of the people opting for such relationship that it would give rise to many legal complications like, division of property, death of partner, violence and handling custody in case of any child from this relationship.
Social acceptance for live-in relationship is increasing. In law, such a relationship is not prohibited nor does it amount to any kind of offense. Personal life and liberty, under article 21, have to be protected irrespective of the fact that the relationship is morally or socially accepted. Also, such persons are entitled to equal protection of laws as any other citizen.
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