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Live In: A License To Assault?

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 country.

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[1]. 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 boys[2].

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[3]. The definition of rape as mentioned in Section 375 of the IPC[4] 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[5]. 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[6]. 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.

  1. Bureau, T.H. (2022) Live-in relationships covered under Domestic Violence Act: Kiren Rijiju. The Hindu. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2023).
  2. Verma, N. (2023) Nishant Verma on LinkedIn: Nishant Verma on LinkedIn: #saynotoliveinrelationship. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2023).
  3. Cases of false implication in sexual offenses are rising, Allahabad HC says (2023). The Wire. Available at: (Accessed: 19 July 2023).
  4. Indian Penal Code, 1860 � 375, Act No. 45 of 1860
  5. The Constitution of India, 1949 � 21
  6. The Constitution of India, 1949 � 14

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