Live-in relationship in discussion due to Shraddha murder case
Due to the daily revelations regarding the Shraddha Walker murder case in Delhi’s Mehrauli area, the debate about live-in relationships and legal rights related to it has again started in the country. Not only was Shraddha Walker brutally treated by her partner, but a section of the society is also questioning her after the brutal murder came to light. The question is how does the law in India look at such relations. The practice of live-in relationship has increased in a section of the country’s youth, especially in big cities.
What is live-in relationship?
If you try to understand in general terms, then two adults of different sexes live together without being bound by marital bonds and spend life together with each other romantically and through sexual relations. It is such a bond, in which there is neither any social bond nor any special legal bond. Therefore, whenever separation is required, both are free to live separately again without any formality or to start another relationship. But, despite this, such relations are not beyond legal obligations.
What is the view of the courts of the country?
According to a report by Legal Services India, live-in relationships are still not entirely socially acceptable in India. Not only this, they have not been prosecuted under any law. However, the judiciary has at times intervened in such relationships and given relief to live-in partners under the right to liberty. The Supreme Court in the case of South Indian actress Khushbu v Kaniyammal has termed live-in relationship as a right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. According to a report by a blog site iPleaders, the court has said that live-in relationship is permissible and living together of two adults cannot be illegalised. Reiterating this view, the Supreme Court in the Indra Sarma vs VKV Sarma case laid down conditions for a live-in relationship to qualify as a marriage. Similarly, in the case of Madan Mohan Singh vs Rajni Kant, the Supreme Court said that if a live-in relationship lasts for a long time, it should be treated as a marriage between the two. In a way, it seems that the court seems to favor such long-term relationships like marriage (not the raat gayi-baat gayi type). Over the past two decades, various High Courts and the Supreme Court, through several judgments, have made it clear that the 2005 Act applies in the case of live-in relationships.
Right of female partner to get maintenance
Under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the female partner is entitled to maintenance, both within and outside marriage. She can also seek maintenance under Section 20(3) of the Protection of Domestic Violence Act 2005. That is, a woman can file a domestic violence case against her live-in partner and seek legal remedies under criminal or civil laws.
Rights of a child born in a live-in relationship
Just as a woman in a live-in relationship has the right to seek maintenance from her male partner, similarly the children born out of this relationship are also considered legitimate and are entitled to maintenance from their biological father. . Before 2010, children born in live-in relationships were considered ‘illegitimate’ for legal purposes. Even if the woman leaves the live-in relationship and marries another man, the maintenance of the child by the father continues.
However, live-in partners are not allowed to adopt children under the guidelines issued by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. However, Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which deals with succession of children, is also applicable to children born out of these relations. This inheritance is available to all children (whether from marriage or live-in relationship). Therefore, a child born out of a live-in relationship has rights over both ancestral or self-acquired property.
Also read- Shraddha Case: PIL in Delhi HC for CBI investigation, petitioner said- ‘Delhi Police is not able to gather evidence’
need for awareness
That is, the law does not reject live-in relationships in India. But, there is a huge lack of awareness about such relations. Especially to protect the victims from violence against them and to overcome the psychological pressure of leaving the family, it is necessary to tell them that the law is on their side. The law does not recognize their relationship as illegal and they can get all the legal help that a married woman would get.