Live-in Relationship in India
India is a country which is opening its doors for western ideas and life styles. One amongst it is the concept of live in relationships.
The Supreme Court in Indra Sarma v V.K.V. Sharma held that,
“Live in relationship like marriage is neither a crime nor a sin, though socially unacceptable in this country”.
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 a legal recognition to relations outside marriage.
Supreme Court in S Khushboo v Kanniammal & Anr (2010) issued some guidelines to recognise
live in relationship-
(a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.
(b) They must be of 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 and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.
(Also, if a man has night out with a woman and engages in sexual activities or lives with someone for somedays on a vacation, it does not qualify for 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 relationship is NOT MARRIAGE in the opinion of Supreme Court.)
In D Patchaiammal v D Velusamy, Supreme Court ruled out that if a man and woman are having a live in relationship for an extensive period, they will be taken as a married couple in the society and the child born out of this relation would be called legitimate.
(Same thing was said in Bharata Matha & Ors v. R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors regarding legitimacy of child.)
Sometimes partners see live-in relationship as a way to lead a liberal life because it does not require the dedication and responsibility that marriage demands.
Walking out of live in relationship is much easier than going out of a marriage.
The Delhi High Court in its decision on 10 August 2010, in Alok Kumar v State & Anr while dealing with the validity of 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 consent of the other party and one party can walk out at will at any time”.
Today’s metro life and modern lifestyle also support these relationships.
Basically live-in relationships is not a question of 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 Right to Life.