Is Live-in Relationship legal in India ?
Live-in Relationship is a concept that is not yet defined in any law statute or enactment but according to the social feeds, it is a relationship in which couples live with each other without obeying any ancient recognition of marriage and likewise discharge themselves from their duties and responsibilities of the married couple. It is different from marriage because there is not any Ethical pressure on the couple and both the partners may separate from each other if they want to, without any legal obligation. In other words, Live-in Relationship is such kind of relationship in which both persons have an opportunity to know the lifestyle, nature, and thinking of each other without having to engage into a legally binding relationship. If any of the partners is remarried/divorcee, then the relationship cannot be considered as a marriage.
IS IT LEGAL IN INDIA OR NOT?
The legality of any practice can be decided with the help of law or any enactment which was made in that regard. But it is well-known fact that Neither such type of law existing in present era which is talking about Live-in Relationships, Nor any law statute was made by the legislation But, according to article 141 of the Constitution of India, Supreme court has the power to issue guidelines to subordinate courts and make precedents. Therefore, there are many such cases held in regard to the Live-in relationships and the Apex court also issued many important guidelines for such cases, which are relevant to Live-in Relationships. Some of them are:-
Nandakumar Vs The State of Kerala*
In this case, Hon’ble SC 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. The Supreme Court said that an adult couple has a right to live together without marriage. This verdict clearly says that the Live-in Relationship is valid in the eyes of law. However, there is not any enactment of the statute that is made by the legislation which marks a stamp on this verdict.
Aysha v. Ozir Hassan^
The Madras High Court observed that “a valid marriage does not necessarily mean that all the customary rights pertaining to the married couple are to be followed and subsequently solemnized”.
The Court is of the view that if a woman aged 18 or above has a sexual relationship with a man, aged 21 or above, and during the course of such relationship, if the woman becomes pregnant, she would henceforth be treated as the ‘wife’ and the man would be treated as the ‘husband’. Even if the girl does not become pregnant after having such sexual relationship with a man but if there is strong documentary evidence to show the existence of such relationship then also the couple involved in such acts would be termed as “wife” and “husband”
This case clearly lifts the veil from the Legality of Live-in Relationships. Therefore when we talk about its legality then a Yes!!! The signal from my side.
RIGHTS OF THE PARTIES
- Women’s Right to Maintenance
Apex court decided that the Right to maintenance in Live-in Relationships is given according to the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Badri Prashad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation, 1978*
SC validates 50 yrs Live-in Relationship of a couple, in this case. Well known Justice Krishna Iyer held that a strong presumption arises in favor of wedlock where the partners lived together for the long-term as husband and wife. Although the presumption is rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him/her who seeks to deprive the Relationship of its legal origin.
Children got legal status
As the relationship is taken as legal and the marriage is considered to be a legal marriage then it is very much clear that the children who are born from such types of Relationships are admitted as Legitimate Child. Also claim maintenance u/s 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956 and u/s 125 of CrPC.
Tulsa & Ors v. Durghatiya & Anr, 2008^
Hon’ble SC held that one of the crucial preconditions for a child born from Live-in Relationship to not be treated as illegitimate is that the parents must have lived under one roof and cohabited for a considerably long time for society to recognize them as husband and wife, it must not be a “walk-in & walk-out” relationship.
Therefore, the court also granted the Right to Property to a child born out of a live-in relationship.
Right to Property
According To Madras HC, If the person who is involved in Live-in Relationship dies then the woman has right in his property and the burden of proof shall lie on Defense. 
DISADVANTAGES OF LEGALITY OF LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIPS
However, there are plenty of cases that also rises which tends to misuse Live-in Relationships. In many Metropolitan Cities and Urban Areas, females are filing false and fabricated cases of Rape on the Males with the help of this weapon. Bs Bassi the commissioner of Delhi Police said in 2015 “At least 25 percent of the total 1,656 cases registered so far by Delhi Police have been because of terminated live-in partnerships or refusal to marry”
Hon’ble Delhi High Court also given directions to the police should not arrest the person only on the basis of an allegation by a woman prior to conducting a preliminary inquiry and getting a medical report but before the arrest, sufficient cause should be recorded by a senior officer to avoid false implication.
Further, directed that if there is any false case found then file a case of ‘Criminal Breach of Trust’ against the woman. So, society should be protected from such false and fabricated cases.
Although the live-in relationships do not command as much respect, they are not illegal in India. Most people of earlier generations look at it as morally and socially improper. However, in the present era, people don’t have many hang-ups about the same. There are many laws that are talking about the rights of any person.
Secondly, if two people can stay with each other then what is the reason behind restrictions on different gender persons(Right to equality) also infringed if we make it illegal. Everyone has the right to decide where and with whom he/she wants to live and spend his/her time or life.
Therefore, in my opinion, Live-in relationships are not harmful to society; we should have made it legal.
^(2014) 1 SHR 1
^ (2008) 4 SCC 520
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