Live-in Relationship in India
Is Live-In Relationship Allowed by Law in India

India is a country that is opening its doors for western ideas and lifestyles. Whether it is good or bad is up to an individual to decide. One amongst them is the concept of live-in relationships.

In this article, let us learn about live-in relationships and see if it is allowed by law or not.

Is Live-In Relationship Allowed in India?

The Supreme Court in Indra Sarma vs V.K.V. Sharma said that “Live-in relationship like marriage is neither a crime nor a sin, though socially unacceptable in this country.” So, in short, it is allowed.

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The decision to marry or not to marry or to have a heterosexual relationship is intensely personal. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is considered to be the first piece of legislation that covered relations “in the nature of marriage” and has provided legal recognition to relations outside marriage.

Supreme Court Guidelines to Recognise Live-In Relationship

Supreme Court in S Khushboo vs Kanniammal & Anr (2010) issued some guidelines to recognise live-in relationship:

  1. The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.
  2. They must be of legal age to marry.
  3. They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.
  4. They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

Note: If a man has a night out with a woman and engages in sexual activities or lives with someone for some days on vacation, it does not qualify for a domestic relationship. Also, if a man has a ‘keep/mistress/rakhail whom he supports financially and has her only for sexual purposes (or as a servant or both), then such a relationship is not marriage in Supreme Court’s opinion.

What Supreme Court Said Regarding Child Born Out of Live-In Relationships

In D Patchaiammal vs D Velusamy, Supreme Court ruled out that if a man and woman are having a live-in relationship for an extended period, they will be taken as a married couple in the society, and the child born out of this relation would be called legitimate.

The same thing was said in Bharata Matha & Ors vs R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors regarding the child’s legitimacy.

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What Delhi High Court Said Regarding Live-In Relationships

The Delhi High Court, in its decision on 10 August 2010, in Alok Kumar vs State & Anr, while dealing with the validity of the live-in relationship, held that-

Live-in relationship is a walk-in and walk-out relationship. There are no strings attached to this relationship, neither this relationship creates any legal bond between the parties. It is a contract of living together which is renewed every day by the parties and can be terminated by either of the parties without the consent of the other party, and one party can walk out at will at any time.

Why Some People Like Live-In Relationship

Sometimes partners see live-in relationships as a way to lead a liberal life because it does not require the dedication and responsibility that marriage demands. Walking out of a live-in relationship is much easier than going out of a marriage.

Today’s metro life and modern lifestyle also support these relationships. Basically, live-in relationships are not a question of a moral fight. Even jurisprudential theory states that a law has to be distinguished from morality. Living with a partner without performing requisite ceremonies is one’s own choice. Article 21 of the Constitution of India enshrines the Right to Life.

In short:

What Is a Live-in-Relationship and What Are the Rights of Live-In Partners Under Indian Laws?

Initially, in Badri Prasad vs Dy. Director of Consolidation and Ors., Hon’ble Supreme Court in 1978 held that in case a couple lives together for a long period of time like 50 years in the said case, then that live-in-relationship will be considered as marriage, and the couple will be regarded as husband and wife under Indian law.

Live-in-relationship is nowhere defined in any Act, but as per Hon’ble Supreme Court in D. Veluswamy vs D. Patchaiamal, it was established that section 2(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, deals with the definition of domestic relationship, which means “relationship in the nature of marriage”. This term includes live-in-relationship if certain conditions laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court are fulfilled. These conditions include:-

  • Long duration of live-in-relationship.
  • Shared household.
  • Pooling of resources and financial arrangements resulting in domestic arrangements.
  • Sexual relationship.
  • Socially hold themselves out to society.

If conditions given above are fulfilled, in that case, live-in-partners are given certain rights under the Indian laws:-

  • Lady partner in a live-in-relationship is eligible for maintenance under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, wherein she can ask maintenance during or after the relationship;
  • Live-in-partners are provided with all the rights given under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
  • If a child is born out of a live-in-relationship, in that case, the child is considered to be legitimate under section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The child also has inheritance rights both in ancestral and self brought properties.

You may also like: Muta Marriage – A temporary marriage for sexual pleasure

Another recent ruling: Live-in relationships are morally and socially not acceptable, said Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court declined protection to the couple from their parents in apprehended danger of their lives. The court said that in seeking protection, the couple seeks the seal of approval for their relation, which is not acceptable. Full Story

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  1. Nicely Explained. You made this concept more clear with the case laws.

  2. Our indian society is totally based on the moral & Cultural principles. They do what their ancestors has did. They really don’t want to accept any changes which harms their moral principles (so called stereotypes).
    But as we see changes are very necessary to survive and Peoples need to break that stereotype mentality.

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