Live-In Relationship and Indian Courts
The court's perspective on live-in relationships have been discussed in this blog with emphasis on the law in India in regards to live-in relationships. The Domestic Violence Act 2005 in this context have been discussed as well.
Indeed the only thing constant in this world is change. The lifestyle of Indian society at large has drastically changed in the past couple of years. People are slowly but surely accepting the notion of pre-marital conjugal and live-in relationships. Nonetheless, this altered mindset arguably lacks legal validation and the society does not readily accept it either. In other words, the subject matter is under criticism and a hot topic of discussion.
In live-in relationships unlike marriage, a man and a woman remain unmarried but live with each other under one roof that may appear to be a married relationship sans the vow of holy matrimony. In other words, the relationship is more like cohabitation. In the Indian context, however, with the exception of marriage occurring between a man and a woman, all other exotic relationships are deemed illegitimate.
People opting for live-in relationships do so to find out whether they are made for or how compatible they are for each other prior to eventually tying the knot. Owing to live-in relationships partners can avert chaotic family disputes and protracted judicial procedures should the couple split at some point in time.
Whatever may be the reason, it is exemplified in the conservative society of India where the sanctity of marriage is not to be sacrificed at any cost even in this backdrop couples increasingly are opting for live-in relationships purportedly unto perpetuity rather than marriage. In similar situations, innumerable legal and social issues have cropped up that are debatable topics.
Over time there have been reportages of incidents where live-in relationships resulting in the birth of a child have led to vulnerability of the very live-in relationship and therefore it's not within the purview of the law. Partners have flagrantly misused the virtues of the relationship as non-performance of duties and responsibilities are acceptable.
Law in India regarding Live-in Relationship
There isn’t any specific law in regards to live-in relationships in India. In other words, the relationship hasn’t had any legal validation, recognition or cognizance and therefore not enacted to law laying down the entitlement and obligations of parties as well as their children. A live-in relationship cannot be legally defined and therefore the legal status of connections of that sort is similarly unverified.
There aren’t any provisions in the Indian law granting entitlements or obligations to the parties living together. However, the concept of a live-in relationship has been clarified by the court through varied judgments. While the law is yet to clarify the status of the live-in relationships, the entitlements have been granted through interpretation and amendment of the current legislation so that live-in relationships aren’t misused.
Domestic Violence Act, 2005
Unprecedented as it may be in Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Pwdva), live-in relationships have been acknowledged by the legislature by endowing entitlement and protection to legally unmarried female akin to wife, in a live-in relationship with a male partner akin to a husband, and the entire relationship resembling marriage, but not marriage in essence.
While there isn’t any categorical definition of a live-in relationship in the Act nonetheless the courts have the discretion of interpreting it on a case-to-case basis. Hence, the court’s interpretation of the relationship based on the provision is “relationship in the nature of marriage”.
PWDA’s provisions are currently applicable to individuals in live-in relationships. Presumably, live-in relationships and nature of marriage are an oxymoron in the sense that live-in-relationships, as alluded to earlier, have had neither the formal recognition nor the legal validation of a marriage and therefore not a marriage at all. Therefore inferences of ‘nature of marriage’ with live-in relationships are obviously inappropriate and not under the purview of a legal marriage. Women, therefore, have a few basic rights of protecting themselves from being abused owing to fraudulent marriages or bigamous relationships.
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