Legal Status of Live in relationship in India
In India marriage is considered as a sacramental and perpetual union and the legal consequences of marriage that follow further adds to the sanctity of the marriage. The concept of live-in relationship was considered as an alien to the Indian custom, a part of glitz and glamour world of western countries and something to be frowned upon. However, over the years the sentiments over live-in have slightly matured down, with courts taking progressive look over it.
What is Live in relationship?A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together under the same roof in a long term relationship that resembles a marriage is known as a live- in-relationship. Thus, it is the type of arrangement in which a man and woman live together without getting married. This form of living together is not recognized by Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or any other statutory law. While the institution of marriage promotes adjustment; the foundation of live in relationships is individual freedom. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 provides for the protection and maintenance thereby granting the right of alimony to an aggrieved live-in partner.
Legal Status of live-in-relationship in IndiaIn India there is no law that deals with the concept of live in relationship. But our courts have given certain recognition to such relationships. In earlier cases the court tended to presume marriage based on the number of years of cohabitation.
Prior to independence, the view of the court on live-in relationship was reflected in the case A Dinohamy v. WL Blahamy, (1928) 1 MLJ 388 (PC), where the Privy Council laid down a broad rule postulating that “where a man and a woman are proved to have lived together as a man and wife, the law will presume, unless the contrary be clearly proved, that they were living together in consequences of a valid marriage.”
After independence the SC in Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation, AIR 1978 SC 1557, recognized live in relationship as a valid marriage.
Later in its various judgements, SC has observed that live in relationships are not illegal. However, this position is not all binding. The Delhi High Court, in a recent case of Alok Kumar v. State Crl M.C., observed that a live in relationship is a walk in and walk out relationship.
Rights of Female Partner in Live in RelationshipsThe Indian Courts have displayed alacrity to protect the rights of female partner in such relationship as exhibited by judgments given in number of cases.
The statues like Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 protects both in the categories of wife i.e. relationship by marriage and live in partner i.e. relationship in nature of marriage.
The National Commission for Women recommended to Ministry of Women and Child Development made suggestion to include live in female partners for the right of maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC.
Rights of Children Born Out of Live in RelationshipThe law relating to the right of child born out of live in relationship is still unclear. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 gives the status of legitimacy to every child, irrespective of birth out of void or voidable marriage. But live in relationships do not come under the concept of marriage. So status of child born out of such relationship is still doubtful.
However recently SC in the case of Bharata Matha & Ors v. R. Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. held that child born out of live in relationship may be allowed to succeed inheritance in the property of parents but doesn’t have claim against Hindu ancestral coparcenary property.
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