The position of Live-in Relationships is not very clear in the Indian Legal
System. Children are the future of a contemporary progressive society, and the
social relationships that control every aspect of their existence often
influence how they will turn out. Children born out of live in relationships are
often given the label "Legitimate in law, Illegitimate in fact", which is
evidence of the everyday uncertainty these people experience, the bleak future
they face and their placement in a distinct social class.
As there is no specific law governing such unions, it is simpler to get into
such relationships but more difficult to leave them. This is especially true
when it comes to the custody issue, which highlights the significant legal
hurdle that such relationships confront in comparison to marriage. Hindu law
explicitly specifies in Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act
1956 that the father is the children's natural guardian when they are minors
and, as stated in the case of Gita Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India, the
mother takes up guardianship when the father is unable to do so.
However, Section 6(b) of Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956 appears to
deal with live-in relationships indirectly by giving the mother (natural
guardian) custody rights in cases where children are born through illegitimate
relationship. As a result, according to a positivistic reading of the law, the
husband will acquire custody of the concerned child in the event that the
live-in partner and the child are no longer together because the husband is the
child's natural guardian.
Numerous courts have regarded this to be problematic, and in a key decision,
Gita Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India
, the SC emphasised the mother's
equality to serve as a guardian since gender equality is one of our
Constitution's fundamental values, the father cannot be said to have a
preferential right over the other in the area of guardianship because both fall
within the same category of dominant personality.
Based on the current scenario it is true to conclude that even though certain
provisions grant legitimacy to children born out of live in relationships, their
rights to ancestor's property and maintenance are still debatable and subject to
change depending on the circumstances. Even though Section 6(b) of the HMGA 1956
exists, the custody of a child born of a live-in relationship is open to
It is safe to say that given the current legal situation, a child of a live-in
relationship will undoubtedly experience a lack of clarity regarding his or her
legal status, origin, and subsequent rights. This can lead to instability in the
child's life- both mentally and emotionally.
To prevent this, laws that are clear on the status and rights of children born
in a live-in relationship should be created, and ambiguous terminology in
existing laws should be amended. This will provide consistency and aid in
establishing the child's emotional, mental, and physical security.
- The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, �6, No. 32, Acts of
- Gita Hariharan v Reserve Bank of India AIR 1999, 2 SCC 228.
- The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, �6(b), No. 32, Acts of