LIVE IN RELATIONSHIPS IN INDIA: IS THE CONCEPT ACCEPTED?

INTRODUCTION

As we all know that Marriages and Live in relationship are two different types of concepts which forms a bond between two individuals, as for marriage is considered to be a sacrament traditional concept which is being practiced since ages and has been inherent from our ancestors where people believe it is the ritual and customary practice vested in Indian society. There is a famous saying called “Marriages are made in heaven” where two people love each other but may end up marrying someone else likewise on the other hand two people who do not know each other but may end up marrying each other. Therefore we cannot foresee who will marry whom it is completely destined in nature. In this scenario few questions may arise as to what will be the future of these kinds of traditional marriages and to what extent will these marriages last long and be successful at. In today’s modern world arranged marriages are constantly decreasing in number as it is lesser accepted by the youths of our generation, on the other hand love marriages doesn’t work out accordingly due to various reasons. “Couples often face the most difficult phase when they doesn’t have any trust worthy person to talk to and share their problems and seek valuable advises in their lives”.

MAITRIKARAR: Maitrikarar is a concept which is similar to the concept of live in Relationship, this system was basically originated from the state of Gujarat, India where a man and woman come together and enter into an agreement before a magistrate and hence share an intimate relationship. This system was widely practiced in the 60’s and 70’s and was followed more in number by many ministers and bureaucrats. There were 29951 cases of Maitrikarar which was found officially registered at District collectors’ office in Ahmadabad. However this system is now not in practice, as the court declared on 15th of December 1999 that Maitrikarar is void and illegal practice in the society.
NATA PRATHA : Nata Pratha is centuries old custom which is similar to the concept of Maitrikarar which was widely practiced in the state of Rajasthan by the Bhil tribal community, In this system both man and woman would lie together and share an intimate relationship with each other without being legally married.

The concept of Live in relationship in India is gaining popularity day by day, but there is no codified principle and particular law on this concept, however this concept is said to be bound on the pillars of judicial verdicts. (1) Khushboo versus Kanniammal case (2) Abhijith Bhikaseth auti versus State of Maharashtra are the two most leading cases explaining the concept of live in relationship.
The whole concept of Live in Relationship is not as simple as it appears, but involves various aspects along with number of issues and complications.

MEANING OF LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP

Live in relationship is a broad concept which is not easy to define, its ambit is not clear it is completely vague in nature. It is a concept of pre-marital arrangement or an arrangement which is made between two unmarried couples, in which the couple live together under the same roof sharing an intimate long term relationship which resembles a relation like marriage. In other words, we can call it as Cohabitation. The origin of this term comes from the mid 16th century, derived from the Latin word Cohabitare which means, Co – together + Habiture -Dwell.
Cohabitation has become increasingly common practice in Western countries like United States of America and Europe since the late 20th century. According to US Census Bureau estimates, 18 million Americans now cohabit.
Couples in live in relationship represent themselves as spouses even though they are not legally married under the law. The Delhi High Court in its decision on 10th of August 2010, in Alok Kumar v. State & Anr termed Live in relationship as a WALK IN AND WALK OUT RELATIONSHIP.

People often prefer live in relationship rather than marriage which is legally bound by law so as to ensure that their partner is friendly and compatible enough and possess a good moral character with equal cooperation and support and is well settled financially and professionally.
It also ensures the couples to figure out the irritants of each other which helps them to find out whether they can deal with such irritants and sustain in that particular relationship or not and if not they can respectfully walk out from each other as there is no particular law tying them together.
The concept of live in relationship is gaining popularity day by day due to the influence of western culture. Divorce rate is increasing rapidly in the society due to unwanted fights and misunderstandings between the couples, due to this reason individuals who are well educated don’t tend to depend on others, they are self dependent, they are aware of the decisions they take in every consequences in their daily life.
Individuals seek their own free space to perform their daily chores, freedom to work and earn, freedom to live their life to the fullest as the way they want.
It is the common scenario when two people of opposite sex work together, as the result of working together there’s more likely that they are attracted towards each other. So hence they develop a strong feeling to know more about it as to whether they have a simple attraction towards each other or whether they have a strong desire to live the rest of their life together.
By living together they are able to know and understand each other better, about their likes, dislikes, nature, and characteristic of their partner.

LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP: INDIAN PERSPECTIVE

Live in relationship is not much popular in India because the Indian society is often considered it as a taboo right since the British raj period. Most of the people in India consider such type of relationships as an evil practice which degrades their standard of living and exploits their societal norms and traditional and customary practices which is being followed and practiced since many years. Indians widely believe in traditional marriages and accept the fact that there can only be one sacramental union which is marriage and no other relationships can take its precious place and no other type of relationship is capable of forming a legal bond between two people like how a marriage forms a contract between two people which is legally bound under the law. Indian traditions and customs are deeply embedded in our blood by our great ancestors and acceptance of the concept of marriage is proven itself to be pure in all aspects and to be highly controversial version especially in the Indian perspective.
Indian parents are still not very accommodating about inter caste marriages or an elderly girl marrying a younger boy or people of same gender falling in love or marrying lower caste or out of caste is not readily accepted by the Indian society likewise they are not accommodating and accepting the concept of live in relationship as well. They consider it as a threat which is committed; however the concept will steadily pave its way towards the changing environment and developing society. Basically if a man and woman live together without being legally married, people in India judge them accordingly on the basis of their character and are often discriminated and humiliated in the society. They are treated as bad segments in the society and are often labelled as a bad influence upon the youths of the society.
However live in relationship is considered bad according to the Indian society but it is not illegal as per in the eyes of Indian law.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution ensures a Fundamental right ‘RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY’ to every citizen of India irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex, profession, income etc.
The Honourable SUPREME COURT OF INDIA declared that for a man and woman who are in love with each other and are willing to live together is a part of right to life and that cannot be violated by any one and hence cannot be constituted as a criminal offence. Therefore live in relationships are considered legal in India according to the eyes of law.

MARRIAGE VERSUS LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP

Marriage is considered as sacramental union between two individuals where man and woman are being together by legal ties. Hindu marriages are often referred as Vivaha, the word Vivaha is basically a Sanskrit term originated as a sacred union of people as per Vedic traditions and termed as one of the samskaras in the Hindu tradition, which are lifelong commitment between the two individuals, as a marriage comes with its own hardships. It is emphasized that the basis of happy and fulfilling married life is the sense of unity among each other, intimacy and love between husband and wife mentally, physically and spiritually.
Saptapadi which means ‘seven steps’, is the important ritual which is the customary practice and tradition followed by Hindus during the marriage ceremony where the newly wedded couple after officially getting married by tying Thali/Mangalasutra, will take seven steps around the holy fire.
The concept of live in relationship which is taken from the western society is gradually increasing in our social norms. Society at large support marriage instead of live in relationship and considers marriage as the very first step or a foundation step which provides the stability to manage and look after towards the family.
The act of live in relationship is completely without any legal statutory obligations towards each other; hence the parties consider each other as spouses in the society even though they are not legally bound by the law.
In India there is no codified law which is being dealt with live in relationship. The Honourable Supreme Court of India has however declared that right to live together is a part of the right to life to each and every citizen and hence the right cannot be violated by any one.
Woman who has lived with a man in a live in relationship for a long period of time should enjoy the same rights that a married woman is entitled to.

It is often seen that couples who are in live in relationship enjoys more financial freedom than married couples as in live in relationship they are not forced to invest their hard earned money on their partner or family, they spend their money on their own terms. But when it comes to married couple they tend to share their earnings equally to help and support each other financially in all aspects. But in today’s modern world things change eventually with time and are seen to vary every day with the changing circumstances, married couples are not tend to share their earnings but the ones who are in live in relationships tend to share their earnings and contribute to support each other and fulfil the needs and wants accordingly.
But still the society considers the concept of live in relationship to be a taboo and considers such relationships as a threat on their traditions and customs.

REASONS BEHIND LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP

  • Couples often wish to cohabit each other, rather than getting legally wedding due to various reasons.
  • In order to ensure their partner’s compatibility before entering into a legal agreement.
  • They prefer giving first priority to their career rather than marriage
  • To maintain their single status in the society
  • The partners feel marriage is a burden with huge responsibilities and commitments that arouse in the future
  • Most of the couples feel marriage is not necessary as they are comfortable with living in relationship.
  • Most of them hate to be divorced due to societal stigma.

LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP JUDICIAL PERSPECTIVE

Delhi high court on its decision on 10th of August 2010 declared, in Alokkumar versus State while dealing with the validity of live in relationship held that the relationship as a “walk in and walk out relationship”, There are no strings attached to this particular relationship, neither this relationship does not have any codified principle which creates a legal bond between the two parties.
In the case of Tulsi versus Darghatiya the court held that the children born out of live in relationships will not be considered illegitimate, parents must have been living together for a long period of time under the same roof by sharing intimate relationship and it should not be a walk in and walk out relationship.

In the cases of live in relationship courts have always given their interpretation of laws to protect the rights of women and children in particular and held that a live in relationship that has existed from long period of time between two people will be considered as a marriage and the children born out of live in relationship will not be considered as illegitimate.

CONCLUSION

There is a saying called ‘Love has no boundaries’, the proverb stands perfect for those people who are ultimately in love with each other and share the intimate bond and live together under the same roof, share the same bed, same food , resolve fights etc, despite of not legally wedded. They call it live in relationship and don’t bother about the societal norms comments and opinions towards them.
There are thousands of couples who are unmarried, and yet happily living together under the same roof sharing the intimate relationship with each other like married people do.

Though couples are legally wedded under the law or not Respect, love, care and honesty are the pillars of a happy relationship and that’s what matters to lead a happy ending together.
Research says that about 80% of the population supports the concept of live in relationships in India.

AUTHOR:

PRIYA. TK
1st year L.LB
BMS COLLEGE OF LAW, BANGALORE