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Live-in Relationships: Is It Destroying The Bhartiya Culture or Not?

The idea of live-in relationships can be a topic of debate in any culture, especially in our diverse Bhartiya culture. Some see it as a reflection of evolving societal attitudes toward relationships and personal choices. But on the contrary it is just a trend which is being copied from the western societies, this practice challenges our rich and divine traditional values, those values that we as the citizens of this country have learned from our childhood.

It's critical to understand that in a country like India it can be perceived that the live-in relationship is having numerous negative effects which are rooted in our traditions and values. In the modern time people may look for partnerships that are more in line with their own preferences as society develops but from a cultural perspective where marriage is considered a sacred union and rite which is central to family life. In the sacred union that is marriage not only two individuals are forming a bond, but two families are.

In the Indian culture family plays a central role in an individual's lives and the decisions regarding relationships often involve the entire family.

The acceptance of live-in culture can be seen as a departure from the traditional values, and it will lead to weakening of cultural norms which surround, marriage, family structure and social cohesion.

Live-in relationships will strain family dynamics which could cause disapproval, conflicts and tension within the family unit. That can lead to emotional distress and a feeling of alienation or estrangement from the loved ones and even the society one lives in.

Moreover, in a country with so diverse cultures where each and every single religion states that union of two individuals should form a bond which is marriage and not some western practice. We should respect the orthodox ways which is being followed from a long time and not change the structure of family just to say that "It is progressive in nature."

As for the legal perspective on live-in relationships in India, there remains an uncertainty regarding the legal rights and protections of cohabiting partners. This lack of legal clarity can leave individuals vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination, injustice and even an increase of assaults specifically sexual assaults just because there aren't any particular rights provided to protect individuals in a live-in relationship.

For example, the case of Alok Kumar vs State (2010) the court held that in a live-in relationship, there are no strings attached, and such a relationship does not create any legal bond among the parties. The court, while referring to the live-in relationship as a walk-in and walk-out, held that those who do not wish to enter in such relations may enter in the bond of marriage, where the parties are not allowed to simply break the bond and have legal obligations. Individuals who are in live-in relationships cannot complain of infidelity or immorality.

The latest case which came into light is the Sharda Walkar Case

In the Shraddha Walkar murder case, the Delhi court has framed charges against Aaftab Poonawala, who is accused of killing his live-in partner, Shraddha Walkar, and dismembering her body into several pieces. The court has charged Aaftab Poonawala with murder and disappearance of evidence.

To present my case further, being in a live-in relationship mitigates the accountability, responsibility and commitment of both the individuals.

Referencing the case of Lata Singh vs State of U.P. (2006) where the Court held that a major girl is free to marry anyone she likes or may live with anyone she likes. The Court further held that the presented case is an abuse of the process of the court and the administration mechanism,

another case of Khushboo vs Kanniamal (2010) The Supreme Court of India held that there is no legal provision where adults are voluntarily associated in sexual relationships other than marriage. So, if any practice which is not yet fully understood by the law doesn't hold any legal obligation that practice shouldn't be continued.

The second concern is of the children bore from this companionship, as they have not been given any clear status whether they are legitimate or not. But that is not the only consequence faced by the children, if any of the child's parent or even both of the parents who are in a live-in relationship, they can deny responsibility of that child leaving him as an illegitimate orphan. Moreover, the concept of a live-in relationship is comparatively new and therefore, there are no amendments regarding the right of succession and inheritance in cases of live-in relationship, since all the succession and inheritance laws were primarily concerned with a married couple and there is no legal provision where adults are voluntarily associated in sexual relationship other than marriage.

In conclusion, live-in relationships in India represent a significant shift in cultural attitude toward love, marriage, and personal autonomy. They challenge traditional values and norms, they also reflect the changing dynamics of modern society prevalence of live-in relationships are likely to increase, prompting further discussions about their impact on cultural identity, family dynamics and social cohesion.

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