Live-In Relations: Legal in India?

“When two individuals need to live respectively, what is the offense? Does it add up to an offense?” this was seen by a three-judge bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, and Justices Deepak Verma and B.S Chauhan.[1] India is where marriage is viewed as a sacrament establishment and henceforth a man and a woman if need to live respectively, need to get themselves tied in the foundation of marriage. In any case, in the 21st century another idea which is known as “live-in relationship” has arisen. A live-in relationship is an idea under which a man and a woman live respectively without getting married. This idea in India is genuinely new yet is spreading quickly. Different Supreme Court decisions have perceived the idea of a live-in relationship and have authorized it

The idea of the live-in relationship had different results, for example, regardless of whether these connections are legitimate or whether early sex ought to be sanctioned in India, particularly when marriage was an establishment to legitimize sexual connections. The main issue that emerged was that what might befall kids conceived out of these connections? One thing to be noted is that the act of a live-in relationship is broadly drilled in metropolitan India particularly in metropolitan urban areas. The general public is isolated concerning if live-in relationships are rehearsed. On one hand, some individuals imagine that marriage is a holy observance and along these lines is important for sanctioning sexual connection between a man and a woman, they charge that live-in relationship obliterates the social texture of the general public, and in this way, it would make disarray and consequently ought not to be perceived. The opposite side blesses this idea and supporters that we live in the 21st Century and consequently young people ought to be allowed to pick their accomplices and hence they ought to choose whether they are adequately viable to go into a holy foundation like marriage.[2]

Social issues involved:

In India marriage as previously mentioned is a ceremony anyway it is hard to follow the beginning of marriage, under Hindu customs and customary marriage is an idea that began when the man appeared. The principal reason for marriage was to offer authenticity to the sexual connection among men and women and second the kid conceived out of that marriage will be a legitimate kid. Under Indian culture, the idea of marriage is so profoundly immersed that if any two individuals of other gender either take part in a sexual relationship without getting hitched it is considered as a no-no and henceforth those couples need to confront the smash of the general public, relationships in India isn’t just the restrict of people yet additionally a restrict of the families and consequently an incredible level of alert is taken consideration when two individuals are getting hitched, however when two individual of other gender live respectively in a live-in relationship the general public with uncertainty judge their character as well as begin scrutinizing their family, childhood and subsequently guardians now and again are likewise not upheld for a live-in relationship.

Notwithstanding, things are changing in metropolitan urban areas like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai individuals are tolerating live-in relationships as a genuine type of relationship, yet in provincial India, the circumstance isn’t something similar. Individuals in India don’t have an uplifting perspective towards live-in relationship. Interestingly in western social orders’ relationships are viewed as an individual decision as opposed to a family choice and thus singular freedom is more than in Indian culture.[3]

Numerous individuals in India accept that live-in relationships are only an approach to satisfy their sexual longings and this sort of attitude needs friendly molding, and individuals need to comprehend that individuals don’t go for a live-in relationship since they need to satisfy their sexual longings however the significant explanation for selecting live-in relationship is that before marriage both the couple need to see whether they are viable with one another, this is acceptable as in marriage is a deep-rooted relationship and before going into that hallowed relationship everybody has the privilege to choose whether their accomplice is good or not.

Another issue that the Indian culture appends with live-in relationship is that it makes a man and a woman shrug away from their obligations and henceforth make them thoughtless, numerous traditionalists are of the view that a live-in relationship is a terrible effect on the Indian culture by the western world. This sort of mindset needs a revaluation as society acknowledges just those impacts with which individuals are agreeable and on the off chance that it isn’t destructive. Singular freedom and opportunity are the forces of popular government and consequently, these two administrators should be regarded in any just society.

Fortunately, the new ages are considerably more receptive and are progressive with regards to live seeing someone and they have delivered that cultural limitation should not damage the individual opportunity and it should be left to the actual individual to choose which practice is hurtful to them and which are not.

Legal Provisions concerning Live in Relationships:

  1. A live-in-relationship would add up to a relationship in the idea of a marriage falling inside the definition under Domestic Violence Act 2005 ( the Act of 2005).[4] The Act 2005 has been ordered to give a cure in law for the assurance of women from being casualties of abusive behaviour at home. Section 2 (f) of the Act of 2005 characterizes Domestic Relationship, it is a connection between two individuals who live or have, any time of time, lived respectively in a common family, when they are connected by affiliation, marriage, or through a relationship in the idea of marriage, appropriation or are relatives living respectively as a joint family.
  • In June 2008, The National Commission for Women prescribed to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and made the idea to incorporate live-in female accomplices for the privilege of maintenance under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. In any case, as of late it was seen that it is separated from the spouse who is treated as a wife in a setting of Section 125 of Cr.P.C and if an individual has not been hitched for example the instance of live in accomplices, they can’t be separated, and henceforth can’t guarantee maintenance under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. Subsequently, it suggested that the word ‘wife’ in Section 125 Cr.P.C. ought to be corrected to incorporate a lady who was living with the man like his better half for a sensibly extensive stretch.[5]
  • Couples living respectively for quite a while foster a characteristic inclination to have children. Nonetheless, live-in couples are not permitted to embrace kids according to the Guidelines Governing the Adoption of Children, 2011 delivered by Central Adoption Resource Authority.[6]
  • Courts have not articulated a uniform judgment regarding more limited connections. Further intricacy is added regarding Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955[7] which concurs a lawful status of authenticity even to ill-conceived kids (those conceived illegitimately) with the end goal of legacy. Hence legacy rights have been allowed to kids out of a live-in relationship, as for both familial and self-gained property

Judicial Response to Live-in Relationships:

  1. For the first run-through, whether or not a live-in relationship is a lawful relationship went to the high court on account of Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation.[8] In the current case, the couple were living in a live-in relationship for just about 50 years and the inquiry under the steady gaze of the court was whether their relationship is conceded a similar status which is allowed to a wedded couple and the pinnacle court’s choice was supportive of the couple and the summit court allowed lawful status to their long term relationship.
  • In the case of S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal v. Another[9], Supreme Court held that living respectively is a basic right that goes under the right to life and individual freedom under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.[10] The Supreme Court in a similar judgment perceived that albeit the idea of living respectively of a man and a woman without being hitched to one another be unethical according to moderate yet it is legitimate according to law.
  • In the case of Alok Kumar v. the State and Anr[11] the Delhi High Court saw that a live-in relationship is a stroll in and out of a relationship. It doesn’t make any lawful commitments on the accomplices living respectively, and the accomplices living respectively can’t move toward the court asserting the other accomplice of any sort of unfaithfulness. A few moderates are of the view that a live-in relationship is a wrongdoing and subsequently, individuals who live in a relationship ought to be rebuffed.
  • The Supreme Court in the well-known case of Payal Katara v. Superintendent, Nari Niketan and others,[12] Nari Niketan, and others held that no law restricts live-in relationship and thus if two couple living respectively without marriage can’t be understood to be illicit and consequently it’s anything but an offense. The following inquiry emerges that whether the women in a live-in relationship be qualified for any maintenance particularly under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[13] One of the reports put together by the National Commission of Women to Ministry of Women and Child Development recommended that ladies living under live-in relationship be qualified for maintenance under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C, 1973.
  • In the case of Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand[14] the court held that a live-in relationship not wedded legitimately can’t acquire support under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C yet it can guarantee more pay under Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Accordingly, it tends to be reasoned that a live-in relationship can guarantee remuneration regardless of the reality if the person in question is hitched.
  • In the case of Indra Sarma v. VKV Sarma,[15] the Supreme Court held that if anytime any man who hasn’t hitched lives with a woman who are additionally not hitched and they are also not married and shared the same house then that will come under section 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act and if at any point of time domestic violence occurs then the aggrieved person can seek relief under the chapter IV of the Domestic Violence Act.

Recent events happening related to the concept of Live-in Relationship:

The Punjab and Haryana High court has conceded assurance to a couple who are in a live-in relationship, seeing that social acknowledgment of such connections is expanding. The request by Justice Sudhir Mittal passed on Tuesday, comes days after another seat of the great court saw in a different case that a live-in relationship is ethically and socially inadmissible. The couple presented that they were grown-ups and had chosen to go into a live-in relationship after cautious thought. They claimed that Pooja’s family was against the relationship and had taken steps to cause actual mischief. Contradicting the assurance to the applicants, the insight addressing the province of Haryana said live-in relationship are not legitimate and are disapproved of by the general public. To this, Justice Mittal saw that the Constitution of India is the incomparable rule that everyone must follow, and the right to life and freedom is cherished in that and is treated as a fundamental component. The said right incorporates ‘the privilege of a person to full advancement of his/her potential as per his/her decision and wishes and for such reason, he/she is qualified for pick an accomplice of his/her decision.’ “The individual additionally has the option to formalize the relationship with the accomplice through marriage or to embrace the non-formal methodology of a live-in relationship,” he added.[16]

The idea of live-in relationship has crawled into our general public from western countries, and at first, discovered acknowledgment in the metropolitan urban areas presumably because people felt formalization of a relationship through marriage was excessive for complete satisfaction, the adjudicator wrote in his request. Schooling assumed an incredible part being developed of this idea. Gradually, the idea has permeated into humble communities and towns likewise as is clear from this appeal. This shows that social acknowledgment for live-in relationship is on the increment. “In law, such a relationship isn’t denied nor does it add up to the commission of any offense and subsequently, in my thought about see, such people are qualified for equivalent insurance of laws as some other resident of the country,” Justice Mittal wrote in his request.

Be that as it may, a solitary seat of Justice H S Madaan had in a May 11 request said a live-in relationship was ethically and socially inadmissible and excused an appeal of a runaway couple from Punjab, Gulza Kumari (19) and Gurwinder Singh (22), who looked for the security of their life and freedom. ‘Truly, the applicants in the attire of recording the current appeal are looking for the seal of endorsement on their live-in relationship, which is ethically and socially not worthy, and no security request in the request can be passed,’ Justice Madaan had believed in his request.[17]

In their appeal, the couple had said they were living respectively and proposed to get hitched right away. They captured threats to their lives from Kumari’s folks. The Hon’ble Supreme Court while permitting the couple’s application commented and requested that the Superintendent of Police is needed to act speedily under the law, including the award of any assurance to the candidates given the fears/dangers, uninfluenced by the perceptions of the Hon’ble High Court.[18]

Conclusions:

Change in the public eye happens continuously and henceforth change ought to be slow and not abrupt. The idea of a live-in relationship is taken from the western world and subsequently, it will bring sane reasoning and make individuals more receptive and urge them to think extensively. In a manner, live-in relationships are advantageous to the general public particularly to the Indian culture as a live-in couple fraternizes before getting hitched, and henceforth it is sensible that an accomplice whom an individual needs to consume his whole time on earth should have the option to know the person in question totally, particularly in India where the instances of separation are on an ascent. Despite the way that live-in relationship is exceptionally perceived in the western nations it stays under the social lock for the most part because of the Hindu Dharma as in Hindu Dharma marriage is viewed as an interminable association that can’t be broken and subsequently it is believed that if once wedded the couple then stays together for seven ages. In any case, live-in relationship according to some Hindu scholars is corrupt and ought not to be rehearsed, nonetheless, it ought to be understood that if anybody needs to live respectively according to their desires they ought to be given that much freedom to do that in a vote based arrangement and those couples should not be defrauded. It is considered that the legal executive through different professions have offered authenticity to the live-in couple which is again an inviting advance and the way that the youthful age of India is thinking sanely and are liberal in issues like these is a positive sign.


[1] Live-in Relationships- it’s position in India and abroad, pros and cons, legitimacy and inheritance of child etc. available at: http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/211/Live-in-Relationships.html (last visited on June 11, 2021)

[2] Lakshay Kumar, Live in Relationship and its impact on Indian society, volume II, fast forward journal (2019)

[3] Lakshay Kumar, Live in Relationship and its impact on Indian society, volume II, fast forward journal (2019)

[4]Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Act No. 43 of 2005), s 2(f).

[5]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s 125.

[6] Guidelines covering the Adoption of Children, 2011.

[7] Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, s 16.

[8] Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation, 1978 AIR 1557, 1979 SCR (1)1

[9] S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal v. Another, 2010, 5SCC 600

[10] The Constitution of India, art 21.

[11] Alok Kumar v The State & Anr.

[12] Payal Katara v Superintendent, Nari Niketan and others, AIR 2001 All 254

[13] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s 125.

[14] Lalita Toppo v State of Jharkhand,  2019, 13 SCC 796

[15] Indra Sarma v VKV Sarma, 2013, 15 SCC 755

[16] Social acceptance of live-in relationship on rise: HC grants Haryana couple protection, The Indian Express, May 20th, 2021 available at: https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/may/20/social-acceptance-of-live-in-relationship-on-rise-hc-grantsharyana-couple-protection-2305279.html

[17] Live-in Relationships Morally, Socially unacceptable: High Court Rejects Couple’s plea, NDTV, May 18, 2021.

[18] Chandra Lekha, SC orders Protection to the live in couple who were denied by the P&H HC, Law Times Journal, June 7, 2021.


Author: Palak Mathur from Amity Law School, Noida.


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