Bringing a good law is equally problematic as making it applicable in real life seems a bit difficult. But once it starts functioning well then there is no turning back. It is not only good for the people but for the whole country as well. There is no live-in relationship law which exists statutorily.
A live-in relationship had been considered a taboo for quite a long period and thus there is no live-in relationship law in India and neither the term “live-in relationship” has a clear meaning given to it. Domestic Violence Act is considered to be an important part of live-in relationship law in India.
In a revolutionary judgment with wide consequences on marriage laws prevalent in India, the Supreme Court of India in the year 2013 said, being in a live-in relationship was nor a crime and neither it can be considered as a sin as well, and Parliament is the one that should pass to regulate live-in relationship and amend the Domestic Violence Act.
It was only after this judgment the question is live-in relationship legal in India was answered by the bench through the judgment.
The bench then had said that, “Parliament has to ponder over these issues, bring in proper legislation or make a proper amendment of the Act, so that women and the children, born out of such kinds of relationships be protected, though those types of relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage,”.
Since then several guidelines have been framed to make this sort of relationship in the nature of marriage so that women can be protected from domestic violence.
Below given are the following guidelines related to the live-in relationship that the apex court has formulated:
1) Relationship Duration
The Section 2(f) of the DV Act has made use of the expression “at any point of time” that signifies a reasonable time period to uphold and carry on a relationship which may vary from case to case.
2) Shared Household
This expression has been defined under Section 2(s) of the DV Act and, therefore, need no additional elaboration.
3) Financial Arrangements and Pooling of the Resources
Financially supporting any one of them, such as sharing of bank accounts, obtaining immovable properties in the name of the woman or in a joint manner long term investment in the business, shares in separate and joint names, has been done to get a long –term relationship.
4) Arrangements of the Domestic Things
Delegating the charge, particularly on the woman’s part so that the chores of the home could be run properly, household activities such as cooking, cleaning, maintaining other work of the house should be done in a better manner etc. is signal of a relationship that comes under the nature of marriage.
5) Marriage like Relationship (Sexual Relationship)
This sort of relationship is not just for having pleasure, but it is also vital for getting the bond of emotional and friendly relationship, for breeding of children, so that emotional support, friendship, material affection as well as caring is taken care of etc. and is an important part of live-in relationship rules.
6) Producing Children
It is a strong indication of a healthy relationship that is vital in the nature of marriage. Therefore, people aim to have a long-term relationship. Producing children and sharing the duty for bringing and supporting them up is also a strong indication of a healthy bond and a good relationship.
7) Getting mix-up and socializing with people
The stronghold of the relationship of marriage comes along with many roles and responsibilities. One has to hold out to the public and maintain the social circle and healthy relation with society as well.
8) Conduct and Intention of the respective parties
The common conduct, as well as the relationship, is to bring the relation into action, to involve the parties in it as their respective duty, roles and responsibilities determine their relation.
The apex court has also said, “We cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that inequities do exist in such relationships and on breaking down such relationship, the woman invariably is the sufferer.
Law of Constructive Trust developed as a means of recognizing the contributions, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary, perhaps comes to their aid in such situations, which may remain as recourse for such a woman who finds herself unfairly disadvantaged”.
Since 2010, the Supreme Court has ruled out in favor of women that they should get their right as that of a wife, in the case of live-in couples.
And recently, while defining whether a live-in partner would be allowed to upkeep under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Bench of Jaishree Thakur J. restated that the holding of the Supreme Court in Chanmuniya v. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha, (2011) 1 SCC 141, where the partners live together under one roof as husband and wife, a belief would rise up in favor of a wedlock.
Moreover, Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice Prakash Tatia had sought public views on the rights of women and children under ‘Live-in Relationship’. According to him, “there was no dignity associated with the women and children born out of this relationship under the laws of ‘Live-in Relationship’, which was given recognition under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006”. This acted as the live-in relationship law in India.
In a nutshell, a judgment of the Supreme Court related to live-in relationship turned the attention of several people towards it and much is required to be done in this track to further safeguard the welfare and rights of these women and their children. The commission even has registered a case by taking a Suo Motto cognizance taking it to be a matter of humanity.
Thus, the definition of live-in relationship is not crystal clear and the status quo is the same for the couples living in this sort of relationship. There is not any particular law related to a live-in relationship in India, there isn’t any sort of legislation that could explain the obligation, as well as rights of both the parties and the status of the children born to such couples, isn’t defined. So, to fulfill the gap and fill the absence of any law that could define the live-in relationships, the courts have come forward to give clarification to this concept.