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The Dynamics Of Live-In Relationships: A Legal And Modern Perspective

Most of the people might argue that live-in relationship is more of a western concept and it doesn't have any place in the Bhartiya culture.

However, there is no stopping an idea whose time has come.

On the outside the idea might seem flawed but like every black cloud has got a silver lining, even this has a benefit and it shall be my endeavour to express my opinion and justify and highlight the benefits of live-in relationships without compromising on the Sanskritik values of the Indian society.

It is rightly said that change is the only constant. Earlier the roles were very well defined . The men were supposed to earn while the women had to run the household. This system was well established and it was streamlined over the years. But now the socio economic scenario of the society has changed.We, as a society, encourage women to work and be self reliant, independent and achieve their dreams.

This proves the need of certain new changes in the socio economic fabric of the society .

Live in relationships are merely a modern additon to the pre-existing accepted societal norms rather than a potential challenge to destroy the Bhartiya culture.

It aims to achieve more inclusive frameworks.

To quote Benjamin Franklin:
"It is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than one innocent person should suffer."

So applying the same adage into this I would like to progress my case further.

Although it was the strength of the Indian culture that most of the marriages found a common ground and the couple lived in harmony, there were a lot of marriages that ended in acrimony also.

As we are already aware that the family courts are flooded with cases about divorces on various grounds, couples in live-in relationships have the flexibility to adapt and evolve their relationship dynamics over time, without the legal and social constraints associated with marriage and divorce. Such relationships offer the benefits of companionship and partnership without the legal complexities.

In societies where divorce carries a significant stigma, individuals may prefer live-in relationships as an alternative to avoid judgment and criticism associated with the "divorcee" label.

Unlike traditional marriages, live-in relationships involve less societal pressure and expectations, allowing partners to focus on building a strong emotional connection before committing for a lifetime and to thoroughly assess compatibility with their partner which will ultimately reduce the chances of entering into an unsuccessful marriage.

I would like to draw a comparison between a live-in relationship to a test drive of a car.

Just as test driving a car allows one to assess its performance, comfort, and suitability before making a final decision, entering in a live-in relationship with one's partner allows to evaluate compatibility, communication, and lifestyle dynamics before committing to marriage.

It may also reveal potential challenges or conflicts in the relationship that can be addressed or managed before marriage.

If it is an acceptable norm for one to test drive and be critical before buying a materialistic thing such as a car then one must also be allowed to be critical about choosing one's life partner.

Article 21 which protects individuals' autonomy and freedom to make decisions about their personal lives, including choosing whether to enter into a live-in relationship or marriage. As long as the relationship is consensual and does not violate any laws, individuals have the right to live together as partners.

Some other provisions in support of live-in relationships are:
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic violence Act 2005 acknowledged live-in relationships by giving rights and protection to females.
  • Women in live-in relationships also have the provision to take protecting under domestic violence act and can initiate a legal criminal action against the man.
  • Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines domestic relationship as a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
  • Under UCC implementation, the Uttarakhand government legalised live-in relationships.
  • Under the proposal, partners must submit a live-in relationship statement to the registrar, who conducts a summary inquiry within 30 days.

S.P.S. Balasubramanyam vs Suruttayan (1993)
The Court ruled that where a man and a woman live together for a long period as husband and wife, there lies a presumption of legality of marriage between the couple, until the contrary is proved and a child born out of such relationship is also not illegitimate and is entitled to inheritance in the property of the man.

Dhannu Lal vs Ganeshram (2015)
The Supreme Court decided the couples living in live-in relationships will be presumed legally married. It was further held that the woman in the relationship would be eligible to inherit the property after the death of her partner.

D. Velusamy vs. D. Patchaiammal (2015)
The Supreme Court of India recognized that a long-term live-in relationship could be considered a valid marriage under certain circumstances. The court also held that women in live-in relationships are entitled to maintenance from their partners after separation.

Indra Sarma vs V.K.V. Sarma (2015)
The court held that women in long-term live-in relationships were entitled to maintenance from their partners after separation, even though live-in relationships were not recognized as marriages under Indian law.

While a live-in relationship might not be the perfect panacea but it does provide a scope to ensure that each and every couple gets to live in harmony.

In this ever changing socio economic society, the concept of livein relationship offers a ray of hope and a glimmer of opportunities.

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