First comes the meet-cute, then begins the dating phase, next comes the relationship and then what? For many, including a ton of Indians, the very next step is a live-in relationship. That’s what the current generation deems practical and logical. Marriage isn’t on the priority list for many but a healthy, fulfilling relationship is. But society doesn’t seem to think so. From being denied homes to rent or buy to harassment, live-in couples still face a lot in India. But how legal is it to be in a live-in relationship in the country?
The Allahabad High Court On Live-In Relationships
The Allahabad high court has said that live-in relationships had become part and parcel of life and were required to be viewed through the lens of personal autonomy rather than the notions of social morality. The Bench of justices Pritinker Diwaker and Ashutosh Srivastava made the observation while disposing of petitions filed by two interfaith live-in couples.
The court at the outset underscored that the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India was liable to be protected at all costs. It further went on to observe that, “Live-in-relationships have become part and parcel of life and stand approved by the Hon’ble Apex Court. Live-in relationship is required to be viewed through the lens of personal autonomy arising out of the right to live guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, rather than notions of social morality.”
4 Facts About Live-In Relationships In India
1. The Legality
Although the term ‘live-in relationship’ fails a precise definition, it refers to the domestic cohabitation between two unmarried individuals. Live-in relationship between consenting adults is legal under the Indian law if the requisites of marriage such as legal age of getting married, consent, and soundness of mind are fulfilled. No law allows or denies such relationships.
The Supreme Court first observed live-in relationships valid in the case of Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation.
In the case of Lata Singh v. State of U.P, the Court held that though live-in relationships are perceived as immoral it is not an offence under the law.
2. Types Of Live-In Relationships
Live-in relationships can be broadly categorised into three distinct categories in India. This classification helps understand if these categories fall within the broad limits of the term ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’. This is key in India, a country where several laws are in correlation with marriage.
Keeping with the term ‘relationship in nature of marriage’, three kinds of scenarios.
- First, could be a domestic cohabitation between two unmarried heterosexual people. This is the most common instance when we talk about a live-in relationship.
- Second, adulterous live-in relationships. This is not unheard of in the country at all.
- And finally, domestic relationships between same-sex partners.
Most societal antipathy and legal issues arise against the second and third scenarios as it falls into the ‘more immoral’ category as defined by Indian society.
3. Rights In A Live-In Relationship
The Right to Maintenance under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C exists for couples in a live-in relationship. The term ‘palimony’ is commonly used to refer to maintenance vis-a-vis live-in relationships. In India, Sec.125 of the Cr.P.C. pertains to the right to maintenance. This provision that was enacted to achieve social justice by aiding ‘destitute’ wives, hapless minor children and infirm parents is now applicable to the indigent partner of live-in relationships.
4. Legal Status of Children Born Out of Live-in Relationship
In Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, children born out of live-in relationships received the legal status of legitimacy for the first time. The Supreme Court said that if a man and woman live under the same roof and cohabit for considerable years, there will be a presumption of marriage under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. Therefore, the children born to them will be considered legitimate and rightfully entitled to receive a share in ancestral property.
In Bharatha Matha v. Vijeya Renganathan, the Supreme Court granted a share in parents’ property to the children born from live-in relationships. The Court held that if the relationship lasted long enough, children born to live-in relationships could not be deemed illegitimate.
Whether you plan on living together forever or try it out before you jump into a married life, the Constitution of India supports you. The right to live-in is valid and you can do so in peace with the backing of the Indian judicial system.