Society and the law have been working for the benefit of the person. Through its rules and customs, the law has been a key factor in altering society. The idea of a wedding or marriage receives the highest significance as a religious ceremony in India. Marriage is a kinship establishing a social bond or legal contract between two persons. Although the concept of a “live-in relationship” is not new to people, many people are hesitant to discuss their status or live-in relationship in public. The blog would provide a thorough investigation of live-in relationships and the continuing discussion around their moral and ethical foundation, which is causing confusion and disagreement with regard to social ethics and legal tolerance. The author will discuss how Indian society has been impacted by live-in relationships from the standpoint of their legalization. It will also provide insight into Indian society's ethical or moral stance on cohabiting relationships.
KEYWORDS: Law, Ethical Values, Customs, Marriage, Western Culture, and Cohabiting Relationships.
Although it might be complicated to describe a live-in relationship, it refers to “a situation in which two consenting adults have been living together for a significant amount of time and behave as husband and wife.” “The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” was adopted after the live-in relationship was recognized as a new type of relationship. However, a live-in relationship is considered as an attack on the institution of marriage. The most common question arising in everybody’s mind is whether a girl and a guy have a one-night stand, spend a day together, spend a week together, or spend a month together, what constitutes a live-in relationship in the eyes of society? This new kind of conjugal life, which was influenced by Western nations and does not include marriage ties, is seen negatively in Indian society and is considered immoral and unethical. Additionally, live-in relationships have not been given any legal standing in India because there is no clear statute controlling them or providing legal protection to partners in such circumstances.
TYPES OF LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP
Live-in relationships can be divided into three forms. This classification aids in determining if particular groups come under the broad criteria of "connection in the nature of marriage".
The first group is for two single heterosexual people to cohabit in their own homes. Live-in relationships with adultery are the second. Domestic relationships between same-sex couples come next. The most well-known, and acceptable kind of live-in partnership is the first one, which involves two unmarried heterosexual adults freely cohabiting. The second and third of the aforementioned circumstances, however, are where the majority of public hatred and legal problems occur.
RULES TO ESTABLISH THE “NATURE OF THE MARRIAGE” CONNECTION
To evaluate whether a relationship or connection is "in the nature of marriage" or not, the Supreme Court established the following standards in the case of Indra Sarma v. VKV Sarma:
Time period of the relationship: The phrase "at any point in time" in “Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act” gives the idea that it takes a long period of time to establish and sustain such a connection, which may vary based on the conditions in each instance.
Joint household: 'Joint home' is defined under “Section 2(s) of the Domestic Violence Act”
Providing funds: Making long-term investments, opening joint bank accounts, and purchasing property in each other's or the woman's name might all be crucial components of a good and strong relationship.
Domestic agreement: A marriage-like relationship can be seen in the distribution of responsibility for managing the home and taking care of domestic duties, especially for women.
Public socialization: An essential element to keeping the relationship unharmed in the form of marriage is hanging out in society and dealing with friends, family, and others as if they truly are a married pair.
LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIPS: ARE THEY LEGAL?
In India, live-in relationships are not governed by any official laws or traditions. The Supreme Court by utilizing rulings expanded the definition of live-in partnerships and provided guidelines on how to treat them.
In a famous case, S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal and Anr (2010), although living together is viewed as something that is not acceptable by our norms, the Indian Supreme Court determined that it is not against constitutionality since Article 21 of the Indian Constitution acknowledges it as a "right to life."
Both the Badri Prasad v. Deputy Director Consolidation decision and the SPS Balasubramanian v. Suruttayan decision made the same type of observation: if a couple lives together for an extended period of time, the law presumes that they are legally married unless the contrary can be shown. Although there is a high presumption in favor of marriage, it is arbitrable, and the burden of evidence rests with the individual who disagrees. Such a connection would also qualify the children to inherit the parent's wealth.
CHILDREN'S BIRTHRIGHTS IN A LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP
For the sole purpose of inheritance, an illicit child (born out of a marriage or as a live-in) is given legal status under “Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955”. Children born to parents who reside with them are thus also granted inheritance rights. Both inherited and privately bought properties are subject to these rights.
It is noted that the Adoption of a child by the live-in pair is not authorized in India as per the statutes governing child adoption established by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. However, if a disagreement emerges over child custody, the partners can speak with a child custody lawyer.
Personal marriage laws, which also apply to offspring from live-in partnerships, control the maintenance rights of children born from conventional marriages. It varies from one personal law to the next. For instance, a child born outside of marriage is supported by the father under Hindu law, but not under Muslim law.
This study finds that even if times are changing and the younger generation is accepting social change, the idea of a “live-in relationship” is still regarded as unethical. A live-in relationship is perceived as a threat to the institution of marriage as it destroys the very root of marriage. The major goals of marriage were to legalize a man and woman's sexual interactions and to give legitimacy to the child that resulted from that relationship, but these advantages also came with a great deal of responsibility, responsibilities to one another, to family, to kids, and to the marital home. To escape from this custom as an alternative, couples consider enjoying the idea of live-in relationships. The benefit of such a relationship is that it allows people to get to know one another before deciding to commit to each other for the rest of their lives. This allows them to see if they get along and can manage every circumstance together. However, some couples may also choose to live together if they prefer not to be married or discover that they cannot eventually get married. Because the idea of marriage is so strongly ingrained in Indian society, it is considered taboo for any two persons of the opposite sex to have a sexual relationship without being married. As a result, society begins to suspect not only their character but also their upbringing. Although live-in relationships are becoming more accepted as a respectable kind of relationship in major cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai, the situation is different in rural India. However, this kind of mentality requires social conditioning and people need to understand that people do not go for live-in relationships just to fulfil their sexual desires but the main reason for choosing such a relationship is that before getting married, the pair hopes to make sure they get along well.
Through a process of change, the law expresses such societal changes throughout time. For this reason, the law cannot afford to be static in a society that is evolving. The study mentioned above demonstrates that in India, the concept of live-in relationships is not widely recognized. under the morals and ethical standards of Indian society. However, since these relationships have not yet been deemed unlawful by India's judiciary or legislation, it is necessary to safeguard the individuals who are a part of them. It should also be recognized that this kind of connection endangers the respected and ideal institution of marriage. It is not necessary at this time to try and bring “live-in relationships” under the ambit of any law in existence but rather to create a new, different law that would examine the “live-in issue” as a separate section and would give the couple’s rights and obligations, reducing instances of breaking existing laws.