In a country like India, a democratic system must uphold respect for human rights. Everyone is free to choose the partner with whom they wish to share their life and get married in order to start a family. The current situation regarding live-in relationships will cause issues such as bigamy and multiple-partner relationships, which will destroy the social fabric of our country. The women involved in these partnerships lack social respect and sanctity, and they do not have the status of wives. Women will be more likely to be taken advantage of because there is no legislation. A Live-in relationship, also known as cohabitation, define as when two individuals who have been in a relationship as partners for a specific period or permanently decide to live together without getting married. Now many questions are coming in our mind related to this new concept. Should live-in relationships be permitted in India? It is crucial to understand the duties and responsibilities that go along with them. A right to freedom, privacy, professionalism, globalization, and education has all contributed to this over time. Additionally, it is not an attempt to avoid your obligations; rather, it is an effort to get to know your partner better and gauge compatibility in order to avoid dissolve the relationship. Is it necessary to draft the laws on the matter of live-in relationship? If yes, then what things impact both socially and psychological? On the other hand, an Act establishes obligations, responsibilities, an alternative, the rights and obligations of children and adoptees, as well as damages intended to deter parties and society, also to provide for the creation of Court of domestic relation with a view to encourage conciliation in, and secure prompt settlement of, disputes concerning live-in relationship between parties and family affairs and for matters associated therewith.
Live-in relationship, Prohibited relationship, Domestic violence, Cohabitation, Disputes, Marriage.
Indian society has been evolving, and there has been a shift norms and values among young generations. Now many people know their freedom and rights and they want to shift their lifestyle according to them. So here came the concept of Live-in relationship, cohabitation, or a situation in which two people choose to live together for an extended period or permanently while maintaining an emotionally and/or sexually intimate connection. The phrase is most usually used to refer to unmarried couples. Some couples choose to live-in relationship because they want to access their compatibility, lifestyle, and value, reducing the risk of potential issues in a future marriage. But what about that new risk which arrived because of this concept? Is our country ready for this? Does society ready for the acceptance of this relationship? What are the rules, laws, regulation for the protection of the rights of individual and society? It’s crucial to remember that live-in relationships are not always accepted or common in India’s various cultures and regions, and that attitudes towards relationships are still greatly influenced by traditional values and beliefs. Even though there is no legal definition of a live-in relationship in Indian law and no particular statute that grants rights to the parties in a live-in relationship, live-in relationships are lawful in India. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of S. Khushboo vs. Kanniammal & Anr., although live-in relationships may be considered sinful in some religious and traditional circles, they are not unlawful. In India, a live-in relationship is accorded less weight than marriage. However, individuals began to accept their rights and independence. Additionally, live-in relationships have becoming common in India, despite the fact that no one’s rights, obligations, duties, or responsibilities have ever been properly documented or drafted. It’s vital to remember that in India, certain conditions, like the duration of the relationship and the extent of shared obligations, may affect the legal standing and rights of live-in relationships.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Cohabitation was frowned upon in India during the British era. Although this is no longer the case in major cities, it is nevertheless common in rural communities with more traditional attitudes. The Protections of Women and Domestic Violence Act of 2005 grants economic rights to female live-in partners.
The Maharashtra Government agreed to a proposal in October 2008 that said a woman who has been in a live-in relationship for a “reasonable period” should be given the status of a wife. According to the specifics of each situation, a period is either a “reasonable period” or it is not.
The National Commission for Women suggested to the Ministry of Women and Child Development on June 30, 2008, that women who live with someone else be included in the definition of “wife” as it mentioned in section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The main objective for this recommendation/s were to increase the protection of women from Domestic abuse which are done in live-in relationship. Main purpose of making this committee The Justice Malimath Committee by the honourable Supreme court, to observe that “if a man and a woman are living together as husband and wife for a reasonable long period, the man shall be deemed to have married the woman. “The Malimath Committee had also recommended changing the definition of “wife” in the Criminal Procedure Code to include “a woman living with the man like his wife” so that even a woman in a live-in relationship with a man would be eligible for alimony. It is not essential for a woman to firmly establish the marriage in order to request maintenance under section 125 of the Cr.P.C., the Supreme Court stated in a case on September 16, 2009. Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code permits a woman living with someone to make a support claim.
The Allahabad High Court rejected the argument that “a lady of about 21 years of age, being a major, has the right to live with a man even without getting married, if both so wish” The Supreme Court noted that if a man and woman live together for an extended period of time, they will be viewed as a married couple and their child will be seen as legitimate.
LIVE- IN RELATIONSHIP IN OTHER COUNTRIES – COMPARISION
United states – Unmarried couples residing together were unusual before the 1970s. The cause is that living together in a relationship and adultery were illegal before the middle of the 20th century. According to the PBS, live-in relationships were not permitted in the 1960s; but, as divorce rates increased and the divorce rules changed to make them easier to obtain, people began to cohabitate without getting married.
Canada – “Common law marriage” is the term used to describe cohabitation in Canada. Most of the time, under federal law, common law couples are afforded the same privileges as married couples. If a couple has been in a committed relationship for more than a year, if they are parents of a child through birth or adoption, if one of them has custody of the child and the child is entirely dependent on them for support, or if the couple has been living together for at least 12 months straight, then their common law relationship is considered sacred in law.
Ireland – Despite the fact that cohabitation is accepted by the law in Ireland, news reports claim that the public is outraged by new legislation that would grant “separated” cohabiting spouses the opportunity to request maintenance or divide their assets with their dependent companions. The programme is open to unmarried couples of any sex who have lived together for three years, or for two years in the case of a cohabiting pair with children. With this legislation, the government hopes to give vulnerable and financially dependent cohabitants legal and financial protection in the case of a death or relationship breakdown.
France – The agreement involves “two adults of different sexes or of the same sex, in order to organise their common life.” The parties “may not be bound” by another agreement, “by marriage, sibling, or lineage” for there to be a legitimate contract to exist.
INDIA SHOULD FOCUS – LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP
Several keys’ considerations should be taken into account to ensure fairness, protection, and clarity
- Legal Recognition – Define the legal standing of cohabitation, encompassing the entitlements and obligations of both parties, in a manner akin to the legal recognition of married couples.
In the landmark judgement of Dhannulal v Ganeshram, the Supreme court held that partners involved in live-in relationship considered to be married couple.
- Duration and cohabitation – To differentiate a live-in relationship from a casual arrangement, specify the requirements for establishing one, such as the duration of the cohabitation and the type of shared obligations.
S.P.S Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, the Supreme Court had said, if both party live under one roof for a specific period of time then presumed as a husband and wife and born child would be legitimate.
- Rights and Obligations – Both the partners have equal right and equal enjoyment on the properties purchased together irrespective of the financial contribution made by each party. Partners should agree on a mutually acceptable financial arrangement while signing the relationship agreement. After which the partners will share the maintenance and repairs of the shared property. The cost will be divided equally unless decided otherwise signed in the agreement at the beginning of the relationship.
- Child Custody – Recognition of Legitimate Child, Children born to partners cohabiting without formal marriage for a specific duration shall be deemed legitimate, enjoying equal status as children born within wedlock. Children born from live-in relationships shall receive identical treatment and privileges as children born within lawful marriages, ensuring equal rights and nurturing for every child under the law.
The Supreme Court ruled in the recent case of Tulsa v. Durghatiya regarding the legitimacy of children in live-in relationships that a child born out of such a live-in relationship.
- Dispute Resolution – If a dispute arises, the partners agree to take part in mediation, which will be facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator, in order to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion. If disagreements persist and mediation fail, the partners have the legal right to commence judicial proceedings by filing an action in a family court.
- Protection against Domestic Violence – Anyone who suspects that domestic violence has occurred, is occurring, or may occur in the future can report it to the competent police officers, no liability would be imposed on individuals who discloses information concerning such violence in good faith.
- Parental Responsibilities – Both parents, regardless of relationship status, are obligated to provide financial support for the child’s well-being, including education, healthcare, nutrition, and overall welfare. Both parents share equal decision-making authority regarding the child’s education and healthcare.
THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Any act, omission or conduct that falls under any of the following categories would be considered as domestic violence- if the aggrieved individual suffers harm, injury, or danger to their physical or mental health, safety, or life as a consequence of the actions, omission or conduct of the live-in partner. This includes verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in as well as financial and economic abuse; or the aggrieved partner is subjected to harassment, harm, or endangerment to life in order to comply with an unlawful demand for money, other property, or a valuable security.
Information to Police Officers, anyone who suspects that domestic violence has occurred, is occurring, or may occur in the future should report it to the competent police officers. no liability should be imposed on individuals who discloses information concerning such violence in good faith. When a police officer receives information or a complaint concerning domestic then they should file applications for a variety of reliefs under this Act, including protection orders, financial relief orders, residence orders, compensation orders, or more than one of these orders.
IMPACT ON SOCIETY IF LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP DRAFTED AND LEGALIZED
There are increased rate of legal protection and legal awareness, individual in live-in relationship would get legal recognition, protection including rights, security, development. If this concept fully legalized and drafted then there is less chance of infringement the rights of person, reduce social sigma and discrimination against couples in live-in relationship, making it a more socially accepted choice. The concept of family arrives. Legalizing live-in relationships would provide a clear framework for child custody and implementing the rights of children. As we can see that if we have proper rules and regulation drafted then it encourages greater relationship stability and commitment, as partners may be more likely to formalize their relationships when legal rights and responsibilities included. Although it is helpful in raising awareness of each person’s rights and responsibilities, it is crucial to remember that the effects on society can differ substantially based on the precise legal provisions and how they are carried out. Legalising cohabitation is a complicated issue that needs to be handled carefully, taking social, legal, and cultural aspects into account.
ISSUES AND CHALLENGES OF LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP
- Can society accept this concept easily -Suppose law passed relating to this but what about society, are they ready to welcoming this. See, it will take a time and government, authorities, peoples all need to understand because if laws passed then society will suffer some type of problems because of this new concept and on the other side if law not passed then many problems will happen in future.
- Gender biased – What if it includes the concept of gender inequality in law, And second thing its about same-sex people relationship or not. If yes, then we have not proper law for same sex marriage, how can be define in this new relationship. On the other side if no, then who is responsible for the infringement of their rights and freedom.
- The shocking news that Shraddha Walkar was killed by her intimate partner Aftab Poonawala has sparked intense discussions about the “dangers” of live-in relationships on Indian news sites and online, as well as what appears to be an encouragement for hate speech. So much so that young girls are denouncing living together without being legally married in their poems, which they write and perform at school assemblies. However, in the midst of universally criticising live-in arrangements, nobody bothered to find out what the actual live-in couples thought about their living situation and the advantages and disadvantages of continuing to live together unmarried in a country as traditional as India.
- SOME CASE LAWS RELATED TO LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP
- Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V. Sarma (2013) – Supreme court observed that live-in relationship is presumed to be a valid marriage, if include certain conditions like long term duration of cohabitation and show the society to be lived as married couple. Court also held that children in such relationship would be considered legitimate.
- D.Velusamy vs. D. Patchaimmal (2010) – In this case, Supreme court declared certain guidelines to the individuals for protection of their legal rights.
- Payal Sharma vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan (2001) – The Delhi HC held that individual have the right to live as per their choice include the consent of both adults.
- Chanmuniya vs. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha (2011) – The Supreme court held that if a man and woman live together as husband and wife for a long period of time then they would presumed to be legally married, and woman has the right for the entitled to maintenance.
SUGGESTIONS & CONCLUSION
To sum up, there has been an increase in live-in partnerships in India lately, and the laws governing them are changing as well. Although India lacks a specific law governing live-in partnerships, the courts have acknowledged the legitimacy of these relationships and have granted legal protection to those involved through a number of rulings. The drafted law that is being suggested to cover live-in relationships is a significant step forward in protecting and recognition of the rights of those who are involved in such unions. This legislation establishes a thorough legal framework to identify and govern the rights and obligations of parties involved while also acknowledging the dynamic character of modern relationships. This proposed legislation provides much-needed clarity and security to people living in such unions by clearly defining and legalising live-in relationships. It ensures that they are entitled to certain rights, such as those pertaining to property, financial support, and custody, and it also offers them a level of legal protection that was previously absent. Additionally, include dispute resolution techniques promotes a fair and equitable method for resolving disputes that could develop in live-in relationships. This not only gives the parties involved more authority, but it also encourages a more stable and peaceful cohabitation. This proposed law’s commitment to protecting weak parties, especially the children born in live-in relationships, is a key component. The proposed legislation prioritises the best interests of the kid by making provisions for their welfare, ensuring they receive the required care and support. It is clear that this draught legislation fills a critical gap in the legal recognition and protection of people in live-in relationships when compared to the existing marriage rules. Even though marriage rules are made for a different kind of relationship, this legislation recognises the uniqueness of live-in relationships and takes into account the unique requirements and situations of people involved. This legislative proposal essentially represents a forward-thinking and inclusive attitude in addressing the various types of relationships that exist in our society. It creates a strong legal framework to regulate live-in relationships and acknowledges the inherent rights and obligations that come with them. Our legal system must change in lockstep with our society’s advancements, and this proposed legislation is an admirable step in that regard. It is hoped that this proposed law would receive the necessary consideration and support, ultimately helping to create a more just and equal legal environment for all people involved in live-in relationships.
NAME – KAVYA JAISWAL
BATCH – 2022-2027
COLLEGE – SYMBIOSIS LAW SCHOOL, NAGPUR
 Sanjay. KK, Live-in Relationship: Laws in India, (Legal Services India).
 Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma, AIR 2104 SC 309.
 Velusamy v. Patchaiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469 ¶ 20.