Marriage is a socially and legally sanctioned union between a man and woman
regulated by laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that prescribe the
rights and duties of the partners and accords status to their offspring. It is a
social institution that regulates a person's code of conduct.
The institution of
marriage is completely regulated by law hence there is no scope for misuse of
the rights granted to either of the partners. An evolved version of the concept
of marriage is live in, wherein partners cohabit together to evaluate their
compatibility. But the sad part is that there are no laws to regulate live-in.
The concept of live-in is a progressive one but can be misused a lot as there is
not a single provision to check for the effective functioning of the same.
Cases of abuse seem to be on an uphill even after giving legal recognition to
live-in relationships and recognizing them as domestic relationships. Article 21
is a fundamental article that upholds the Right to Life and hence upholding the
rights of such women who are the victims of such physical and mental abuse is
the need of the hour.
Reluctancy is seen among women to file a complaint against
their partner while in live-in as they need to face certain taboos of the
societies. Society still considers live-in to be illegitimate even after the
legalization of the same. Hence, the question here is not just about the
enforcement of laws for the protection of women against atrocities and
harassment but also creating awareness in the minds of people and tackling
certain misconceptions revolving around the concepts of live-in relationships.
In this short perspective article, we will try to look at addressing the taboo
surrounding live-in relationships in addition to analyzing various legal
dimensions that could be embedded in live-in relationships to ensure that there
is no violation of the law. In addition to this, we would be evaluating not just
the violation of rights of women but also men because of live-in.
Live-in-Relationship, when we talk about such topics with the elder generation
the reaction is often - Ahh! This is all new to us, we have never seen such
things happening & why does the woman want to live with a stranger before she
gets married to him, what is needed? We were not even allowed to meet the spouse
before getting married then why does this younger generation want to follow the
Western culture and especially the woman isn't it wrong, how can she share her
living space with a stranger for days & for months?
Don't you think that there is a need to normalize these conversations with the
elder generation & isn't it our duty to make them aware or aren't they aware of
what is happening in society, we often say that their mentality is orthodox, but
do we ever try to find out why they are saying so, can the reason be they are
worried for their younger ones? Yes, of course, this can be one of the many
reasons they are not ready to accept the new changes happening around & they
often say this is all English people brought with them when they invaded the
But why does a woman want to live with a stranger prior to her marriage? Did the
typical Indian society ever try to get the answer to this? Here, we would be
discussing the various reasons a woman might want to stay in a live relationship
prior to her wedding. Live-in-relation has found its traces in the Vedic era,
where the eight different types of marriages have been discussed one of which is
GANDHARVA VIVAH that of Shakuntala & Dushyant, where the woman has the right to
choose her spouse and there is no role of the family members, especially her
parents. And surprisingly this wedding was accepted by her father Rishi Kanva.
That means this type of institution was even accepted in history long back if
the people then realized the reason why a woman should have to right to choose
her life partner and Shakuntala & Dushyant lived together prior to their
marriage then why today the Indian society calls it to be a western culture. We
are not here to compare the Western or Indian culture or to comment on which
culture is superior or inferior or which is better.
In the Western world, it is
quite common to see the opposite gender hanging out together or having a single
female friend in a group of 4 males but here in a country like India where the
people are still living with their traditional beliefs. Or even if a girl and
boy are good friends people start assuming that they must be in a relationship.
Coming to the perspective of a woman, it's important to note that these may vary
from person to person, and not all women share the same views on this topic but
here we would be providing the common views. Also, would only be taking
heterosexual couples into consideration as of now, as in India the matter of
Same-Sex Marriage is yet to be decided.
Here, if the woman has the right to choose her own partner and could know him
better prior to marriage, then that would mean that she has the freedom to make
her own decisions, and no one would have the right to interfere and have the
control over their own lives while being in commitment with someone. Both
partners enjoy their own freedom and independence while being in a relationship
and living together.
Living together prior to marriage allows them to deepen their emotional intimacy
and allows them to understand each other's habits and how they react in each
situation. This also allows them to communicate more effectively, this helps to
reduce trust issues and help the couple to enhance their trust, empathy. This
allows them to know their compatibility with each other. Live�in can encourage
the development of equal partnership, it allows woman partners to express their
desires, and enjoy their personal spaces when needed.
Every coin has two faces & thus if a couple chooses to stay live-in then they
might need to face some challenges like disapproval by society, especially the
female partner might face criticism or pressure from their family & friends,
women need to ensure their rights especially that of property and they need to
ensure their financial stability. Living together can bring conflicts or
disagreements that needed to be managed effectively, conflicts or disagreements
can also develop trust issues between the partners.
There was a very positive regulation in law in recent times wherein Law Minister
Kiran Rijiju declared that Live-in relationships would be covered under the
domestic violence act. This indeed is a very strong reform. But in addition
to this, there needs to be enforcement of separate laws just as there are
certain laws for the protection of the rights and autonomy of women as well as
men cohabiting together.
In such circumstances, the question of intelligible
differentia comes into the picture, and we can state that women in live-in
relationships need protection as consent to cohabiting together does not give
permission to assault or molest. In a similar way, live-in does not provide
women the license to falsely accuse men of charges of rape.
It is noticed that
in recent times, women put false charges of rape against the partner they
co-habit with on the grounds that the relationship between them turned sour on
trivial matters. We came across this post on LinkedIn by an extremely profound
Supreme Court advocate himself which stated below:
Boys are destined to go to jail for the offense of "rape" when they cohabit in a
live-in relationship and then deny marrying the girl even for any cogent reason.
They are playing with fire if they stay in a live-in relationship. These kinds
of "No strings attached "relationships in most cases don't develop into a good
relationship/marriage. Live-in relationship is very unsafe for girls as well as
Even though this post appears harsh prima facie, it is important to observe that
this post is the reality. This post highlights the condition prevailing in
society in recent times. In a very recent case, Justice Siddharth stated on
February 14 that the case was one where "the disastrous consequences of a
live-in relationship has come on the scene" after hearing the bail application
of a person who was accused by his live-in partner of "false promise to marry" -
which can be the basis for filing rape charges. The definition of rape as
mentioned in Section 375 of the IPC is being interpreted in the broadest way
possible thus leading to the false conviction of many innocent men.
It is important to consider the circumstances that led to the couple parting
their ways while cohabiting together. The fact that the victim's statement
solely is sufficient to prove rape charges against a person becomes very unfair
as it is in direct contravention of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Such charges directly contravene the dignity as well as the rights of a man to
lead a decent life in society.
Every person has the right to lead a life of
dignity and depriving men of these rights further leads to violation of Article
14 of the Indian Constitution. This article propagates the Right to Equality.
Legalizing live-in relationships is not sufficient as there is an urgent need on
the part of the Centre to frame certain laws for the protection of the rights of
both men and women in such a setup.
In a nutshell, the article's purpose was to highlight how live-in should not be
considered taboo because it is a personal choice that individuals make based on
their unique circumstances and preferences. Taboos often stem from societal
norms, cultural biases, or historical perceptions that can restrict personal
freedoms and create unnecessary stigma which in turn acts as a constraint to
individual autonomy. In addition to which a need for separate laws for live-in
couples is sought to ensure there is the protection of basic rights of such
couples cohabiting together.
- Bureau, T.H. (2022) Live-in relationships covered under Domestic Violence Act: Kiren Rijiju.
(Accessed: 19 July 2023).
- Verma, N. (2023) Nishant Verma on LinkedIn: Nishant Verma on LinkedIn: #saynotoliveinrelationship.
Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nishant-verma-7b3770126_saynotoliveinrelationship-activity-7085629128355241984-fWsO/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_android
(Accessed: 19 July 2023).
- Cases of false implication in sexual offenses are rising, Allahabad HC says (2023).
(Accessed: 19 July 2023).
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 � 375, Act No. 45 of 1860
- The Constitution of India, 1949 � 21
- The Constitution of India, 1949 � 14