The morality of live-in relationships is severely restricted in India. Although living together is neither a crime nor a sin, it is frowned upon in Indian society. In a country like India, where weddings are considered as a societal foundation for validating a man-woman relationship, the concept of a live-in relationship has given the man-woman relationship a new depth.
With the evolution of time and modernity, India’s social conditions have experienced some positive changes. Several decisions have thrown the old conceptions of Indian society into question. Certain societal facts, however, remain unwelcomed and are perceived through the patriarchal lens; one common example is live-in partnerships. While a segment of the Indian population has embraced it, a sizable proportion is still opposed to the idea.
What do we mean by Live-in relationship?
Although it is hard to define the term “live-in relationship,” it refers to domestic living between two unmarried individuals. Live-in relationships are growing more common among couples. It allows them to deeper understanding one another and makes educated decisions about major commitments such as marriage.
In Indian society, however, pre-marital sex is disapproved upon. As a result, couples living together prior to marriage are usually considered as culturally inappropriate, unethical, and in contravention of societal standards. As a result, while some people have openly accepted the concept of live-in relationships, it still confronts social opposition based on traditional values.
However, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution outlines the lawful status for live-in relationships. This inalienable fundamental right gives rise to the right and freedom of choice to marry or engage in a live-in relationship with a person of one’s own choosing.
In the historic case of S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal, the Supreme Court declared that a live-in relationship is guaranteed by the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In addition, the Court found that live-in partnerships are legitimate and noted that the act of two persons living together is neither illegal nor criminal.
The right to life emphasizes an individual’s freedom to enjoy life in any way, unless it is restricted by existing laws. It is a free society, and anyone can live wherever they want. In the context of live-in partnerships, Article 21’s Right to Life applies in the sense that an individual has the freedom to live with a person of their choice, with or without marriage.
Why Live-in Relationships so accepted by the new generation?
The couple may enter into a live-in relationship for a number of reasons. The following are some of the reasons for a live-in relationship:
- To ensure compatibility: When one person begins to live with another person 24 hours a day, both people learn about each other. They can learn about one other’s habits and determine whether or not they can stay in a married connection with each other.
- To verify the roles: Many marriages collapse as a result of the parties’ refusal to accept responsibility. These commitments may be familial or pecuniary in nature. Couples can readily determine whether they can handle all of these duties by remaining in a living relationship.
- There is no divorcee label: One of the best things about being in a relationship is that if the spouses agree that they are not meant to be together and move on after their living connection, neither boy nor girl will be tagged as a divorcee. They can form a relationship with someone else.
- Contribute to the development of unity in diversity: When someone leaves the house, they meet new people. There is a possibility that he or she will fall in love with someone from a different culture, religion, or caste. Such couples can get into a live-in relationship to learn about each other’s routines and cultures, which help to establish unity in difference.
- There is no contractual commitment: Marriages are considered holy in India, as well as a commitment between the husband and wife, with potential consequences if any party fails to comply by the terms and conditions. Such contractual duty does not exist in a living relationship; therefore couples are free to conduct their relationships according to their own needs.
However, despite of the numerous advantages to the live-in relationship, there are various disadvantages attached to it as well.
Why people oppose Live-In Relationship?
- Huge mental suffering: We cannot deny that the most significant disadvantage is the cultural stigma that live-in relationship partners suffer. From finding a respectable place to live to continuously being scrutinized by everyone around them, many couples experience significant mental distress.
- The Situation of the Children: Another disadvantage that should not be overlooked is the status of children born from live-in partnerships. Despite the fact that the court accepts children born from such partnerships as genuine, studies reveal that children from such relationships experience significant mental stress and do not get the childhood that every child needs owing to the taboo that the live-in relationship entails.
- A lack of commitment: A lack of commitment is another disadvantage that can be addressed in the case of living partnerships. It can also be a favorable position for some couples, but it can be the most disadvantageous if the partner does not fulfill his responsibilities.
- Families provide no assistance: The loss of support from family and friends is the most significant disadvantage of live-in relationships. It causes the pair a lot of emotional anguish and is sometimes the cause of their relationship’s demise.
What can be the rights provided to Women Partners And Children In A Live-In Relationship?
In addition to offering legal immunity to live-in partnerships, the Indian judiciary has provided additional protection to relationships resulting from live-in relationships, demonstrating its role as the caretaker of its residents. In numerous occasions, the courts have upheld the woman partner’s ability to preserve and inherit property. The rights of children born from such live-in partnerships have been safeguarded by Indian courts.
In India, the right to maintenance is governed by Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. This clause, which was designed to ensure social fairness by assisting “destitute” wives, helpless minor children, and elderly parents, is now applicable to the poor partner of a live-in relationship. The reasoning behind granting such a privilege to a woman in a live-in relationship is to ensure that a man does not enjoy the benefits of legal loopholes by using the advantages of an unofficial marriage while failing to fulfil the duties of that marriage.
According to the Supreme Court, if a man and a woman live under the same roof and cohabit for a significant period of time, there is a presumption of marriage under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. As a result, the children born to them will be recognised genuine and entitled to a share of family property.
Since the couples live together for an extended period of time and represent themselves as husband and wife, live-in relationships have the hallmarks of marriage. As a result, they are covered by the Domestic Violence Act of 2005, and a woman in a live-in relationship can seek protection and maintenance under this Act. As a result, this Act legalises unions other than marriage.
There are still unanswered concerns, such as how to protect same-sex partners or men in heterosexual live-in relationships from intimate partner violence, particularly sexual violence. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 375 defines rape as an offence committed by a man against a woman, hence a man in a heterosexual or a woman in a same-sex live-in relationship has no remedy if they are violated.
By all accounts, the concept and legal recognition of a live-in relationship in our country has only risen over time. Marriage is regarded as a spiritual bond that is both recognised and valued in the public arena. The courts have acted as a check and balance in society, allowing spouses to continue living peacefully with one other and with equal respect in the community.
There is no explicit law in India governing live-in partnerships. Although recognised by the legal system, a live-in relationship lacks cultural acceptance and is stigmatised. Proper legal enactment is required to protect such parties’ rights and interests.
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