India is distinct from other nations because of its rich cultural traditions as
well as its moral and social values. The institution of marriage is as old as
human civilization in India. Marriage is a sacramental institution and a
relationship that cannot simply be severed between two persons of different
sexes. Marriage-based relationships are socially and legally accepted among
Indians in our nation.
In addition to this, modern young are increasingly embracing western culture,
which has sparked the rapid emergence of a new type of living arrangement known
as the live-in relationship. But regrettably, this form of partnership is not
very well accepted in society. A live-in relationship is when two people choose
to cohabitate under the same roof without getting hitched.
It is a long-term
relationship behaviour that resembles marriage. A live-in relationship is one
that is unrestricted by obligations and responsibilities, unlike a typical
marriage. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and all other statutory laws do not
recognise it. The supreme court of India recognized live in relationship as
legal relationship and is not considered as prohibited relationship.
Objective Of Research
- To Define The Concept Of A Live-In Relationship.
- To Study The Legal Status Of Live-In Relationships In India.
In India, there is a lot of discussion and controversy about the legality and
effects of live-in relationships on interpersonal relationships in society.
Long-term living together as a man and woman has always been considered legal
marriage. The Supreme Court explicitly stated that a live-in relationship is not
illegal, and a woman in a live-in relationship was granted support in 2010.
However, the year 2010 witnessed a number of rulings relating to live-in
The article aims to clarify the present legal position of live-in
relationships in India and attempts to describe the idea of live-in
relationships in depth. The article also tries to look into recent developments
in the attitude of the Courts in granting various rights to live-in partners in
India, and analysis of such judgments.
Historical Aspect Of Live In Relationship Under Three Broad Classifications:
Manu asserts that although premarital unions existed in the Vedic era and
thereafter, they were uncommon. As a result, the idea of living together before
marriage is not a novel one in India; live-in relationships have long been
there. Even though marriage was the norm in ancient India, premarital
relationships are depicted and acknowledged in Hindu scriptures.
Although the phrase "live-in relationship" may seem novel, the idea is not.
Eight different kinds of marriages Brahma marriages, Daiva marriages, Arsha
marriages, Prajapatya marriages, Asura marriages, Gandharva marriages, Rakshasa
marriages, and Paisacha marriages are all attested to in the Vedas. One of the
eight types of Hindu marriages, Gandharva marriage, involves events that are
strikingly comparable to those in a live-in relationship .
The Gandharva form of marriage was the most common during the Vedic era. A type
of marriage known as a "Gandharva marriage" allows the couple to live together
because of love and consent, finally becoming married consensually.
Shakuntala and Dushyanta are a well-known couple that chose this type of union.
Gandharva marriage is a type of union in which the woman selects her own
According to Apastamba Grhyasutra, an ancient Hindu literature, Gandharva
marriage is the method of marriage where the girl selects her own husband. They
meet each other of their own accord, consensually agree to live together, and
their relationship is consummated in copulation born of passion.
This form of
marriage did not require consent of parents and The Gandharva marriage method is
defined by the ancient Hindu text Apastamba Grhyasutra as the marriage when the
girl chooses her own husband. They meet on their own, decide to live together
amicably, and then consummate their relationship through passionate copulation.
The consent of the parents and anyone else was not necessary for this type of
This was one of the earliest and most common type of marriage during the Rig
Vedic period, according to Vedic records. In the Mahabharata, one of the two
great Hindu epics, Rishi Kanva, Shakuntala's foster father, suggests the
Gandharva union, saying that it is the best union possible between a desiring
woman and a desirous man, without the use of rituals.
Concubines were used in the past to help wives who were unable to have children
by producing large numbers of offspring. Concubinage, however, also enjoyed
legal tolerance in mediaeval times between two unmarried individuals, much like
the position of common-law marriage. Although concubinage has been a prevalent
practice throughout history in many cultures, concubines' social and legal
standing has changed with time, ranging from sexual servitude to common-law
The drive to end evil practices was launched in modern India with the entrance
of social reformers and British Indian Laws, which led to a decline in the ties
between Concubinage is the legal status of a man and woman cohabitating as
husband and wife without enjoying all the rights and benefits of a legal union.
Concubna, a name formed from con (with) and cubare in Latin, is whence the word
concubna originates (to lie). A woman who engages in this kind of relationship
is referred to as a concubine.
Concubine has the potential to persist for the remainder of a person's life.
It is also extremely easy to discontinue because the woman and her children
often have little legal protection in this relationship.
The practice of keeping concubines was in existence even after the
independence of India. Gujarat for a long time had a friendship contract
entered into voluntarily between a man and a woman, which provides that the
woman would exercise no claim on the man during or after the relationship
beyond friendship and Family.
Even after India gained its freedom, the custom of having concubines persisted.
For a very long time in Gujarat, a man and a woman might willingly engage into a
friendship contract that stated that the woman would have no rights over the guy
other than those of a friend. Those written agreements between persons of two
opposing sexes to be friends, live together, and take care of one another were
officially referred to as maitray karaars .
In a relationship known as "Maitray Karars
" or the "companionship contract,"
heterosexual individuals of two opposite sexes agree in writing to treat one
another as friends, live together, and take care of one another. This was a
bigamy-alternative that had its beginnings in Gujarat. The Hindu Marriage Act
forbids such a guy from remarrying if his wife is still living or hasn't filed
for divorce from him.
he Maitray-karar is a form of covenant between a married
Hindu man and his "other woman" to get over this restriction. Consequently, a
Maitray Karar is an agreement between a married man and an unmarried woman that
formalises the terms and circumstances of support, provision of food, clothing,
and housing and all other necessities of life between them for living together.
However, women contracted in Maitray Karar had a more vigorous status than women
in a live-in relationship.
Non-marital Cohabitation or "Dapa" which is popular among Garasia community
which is found in Rajasthan . However, under a Garasia community in Rajasthan,
this practice has been in a tradition since time immemorial. This kind of living
arrangement in the northwestern state of Rajasthan is also called by the name as
"Dapa" by some experts.
Since women have a high status in such an arrangement, the tribals of the
Garasia clan have been practicing this custom for thousands of years, which has
led to a low number of rape and dowry death cases in the state of Rajasthan. Due
to a lack of funds, they are able to stay together and even start a family
without having to get legally married first.
For the Indian tribe, marriage is an unfamiliar concept. Living together is the
norm in the Garasia community. Thus, live-in relationships are important to
Garasia culture and will be accepted by the majority of Indians .
The extremely old habit known as "Nata Pratha" is still practised today in a
number of states, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. A male can
live with as many ladies as he wants under the custom, which leads to parents
abandoning their children. The Bhil tribe practices Nata Pratha.
In the past,
the man and the lady were both expected to be married or widowed, but the
tradition has since expanded to accommodate single people as well. Men and women
can cohabit non-maritally for as long as they'd like in this Nata relationship
without getting married. However, because of this tradition, a guy must now
provide a financial contribution to the woman he want to live with.
Non-Marital Co-Habitation Among Tribes Of Jharkhand
In almost all tribal societies, men and women have equal rights, including the
freedom to select a life partner. Consequently, a tribal girl from the Oraon,
Munda, or Ho tribes of Jharkhand can choose a non-marital relationship with her
male partner without getting married to each other in the form of a "Dhuku"
The women in such relationships are called "Dhukua" or "Dhukni," and
they lack legal rights to property and other assets because the relationship is
not socially recognized. Many couples who have been together for more than 20
years simply move in together and start a family since they are unable to plan a
wedding feast. These couples are fighting valiantly to pay for a wedding despite
their humble upbringings.
According to Nikita Sinha, an advocate for the legal rights of cohabiting
couples, there are instances where the three generations of a family never wed
because they lacked the funds to get hitched and hold a village feast. The
reason the villagers forbid a grandson's marriage is that his grandfather
decided to enter a live-in relationship rather than give a wedding feast, the
The people in Jharkhand, who are unable to arrange their wedding followed by a
feast for the entire village to make the wedding socio-legal recognition.
Meaning Of Live In Relationship:
"It's better to have a live-in relationship rather than having a divorced
This is common and line favouring live-in relations in the world. Live in
relationship are not new for western countries but these days the concept is
adjusting its roots in east also. The word live in is controversial in many
terms in eastern countries .
The definition and ambit of live in relationship is not clear. The
'live-in-relationship' is a living arrangement in which an un-married couple
lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage. Couple
present themselves as spouse to the world.
'Live in relationship' means those relationship where there is no marriage
between the parties, in the sense of solemnization of a marriage under any law.
Yet the parties live as couple, represent to the world that they are a couple
and there is stability Socio-legal dimensions of 'live-in relationship' in India
and continuity in the relationship. Such a relationship is also known as a
'common law marriage.
Live-in relation i.e. cohabitation is an arrangement whereby two people decide
to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or
sexually intimate relationship. Typically, the phrase refers to unmarried
partners. A live-in relationship is a voluntary arrangement whereby two adults
mutually agree to live together to conduct a long-term relationship that
resembles a marriage. "Live-in relationships are walk-in, walk-out
relationships. There are no strings attached to these relationships as the
relationship is free from any legal bond between the parties." It is in simple
Reasons Behind Emergence Of Live-In Relationship:
- They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a
legal union of Marriage.
- Now a day's youth is losing faith in the institution of Marriage and
they feels that marriage is unnecessary.
- Most of couples go for live-in relations because they want to live
free life on their own terms and conditions.
- Existed marriage is unsuccessful and social difficulties arose in
- Most of the times Marriage is not being supported or allowed by
family members due to inter-religion, inter caste or age difference etc.
and many more factors that's why couple start living in Live-in
- Sometimes couples are scared from social legal obligations,
responsibilities which get arises in a married life, thereafter as a
- Couple gives priority to the career rather than marriage. Therefore
live-in relationship is best option for them where there is no
commitment and no time for partner.
- In order to escape from the loneliness in their lives senior
citizens have also started preferring live in relationships.
- With the change of time westernization has stepped into the shoes of
Indian society and had thrown a negative impact on the youth for
example: The dressing sense, eating habits and the most important one is
the new kind of living arrangement i.e. Live-in Relationship came into
- At least 44.2% of divorces are predicted to occur in 2022. Based on
a 6.1/1,000 total population marriage rate and a 2.7/1,000 total
population divorce rate, this conclusion has been reached. People are
choosing live-in relationships as a result of the rising divorce rate.
- To establish financial security before marrying.
Issues And Challenges Of Live-In Relationship
Although the live-in relationship is legal in the eyes of Law and numerous
judgments in favour of live in relationship has been pronounced by the Hon'ble
courts but there are some more complex grey areas that remain unresolved which
are discussed below:
- Societal and Moral acceptance:
Even if it is permitted, living together is nonetheless frowned upon and
seen as unethical in Indian culture. Living together is frowned upon in
Indian society. Indian society does not readily accept this type of
relationship, thus couples frequently deal with issues like rejection from
family, difficulty finding a place to live, rejection from society,
hostility at job, etc.
- Official Documents:
In India, there is still no category for a live-in
relationship on any official paperwork. The couple has issues with their shared
bank accounts, nominee names, insurance, visas, and other things.
- Cultural Issues:
India is known for its different cultures and religions.
Globalization has majorly impacted the human relations. The formally dominant
family ties and values are witnessing rampant changes. Every religion has its
perspective towards a live-in relationship . In India, beliefs, customs, usages,
and culture significantly impact people's mindsets. Subsequently, acceptance of
new norms depends upon the prominence of their belief rather than any law. The
emphasis must be given to address the complications of anti-religion live-in
relationships, which is still a sensitive issue.
- LGBT couple:
The LGBT group frequently receives little compensation, and
society is often reluctant to acknowledge their relationship. In fact, there is
no provision for or discussion of LGBT couples in any laws or rulings regarding
live-in relationships. Consensual same-sex sexual activity is no longer illegal
in India because to the Supreme Court's decision to invalidate Section 377 of
the Indian Penal Code 1861. However, same-sex marriage and live-in relationships
are still illegal there. Although the Honorable Courts have recently given such
liberal interpretations, there is currently no specific marriage statute for the
LGBT community in India.
- Property rights related to anti-religion and the LGBT community:
issue with live-in couples is succession and property rights. Only Hindu law now
provides property rights to children born out of a live-in relationship, and
only on self-acquired property, not on family property. Muslim law has its own
system for property allocation, and it has made no attempt to start any debates
on time. There is no protection for the LGBT community, nor are there any
provisions regarding property rights.
It is illegal for an LGBT couple to give
or leave property to their livein partner. Without properly resolving such
upcoming issues and codifying relevant laws, there may be room for fraud,
cheating and it may give rise to criminal fights in families over property
- Gender biased:
The 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act recognises a woman as a
wife if she has shared an extended length of time with a man. Several
conditions, including maintenance and property, are also in her favour.
Regrettably, it makes no provision for males or LGBT couples. Men are often
prosecuted for sexual assault and taking advantage of a woman by making a fake
marriage vow. It may be contradictory; there is no provision for men to be
strengthened in such a case. Likewise, no protection exists for the sexual abuse
of a same-sex spouse.
Legal Status Of Live In Relationship:
In Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh 
The Supreme Court governed that live-in relationships are allowed between not
married individuals of straight sex who are of legal age. When Lata Singh's
brothers objected to her marriage, they said she was psychologically ill. When
doctors evaluated her, however, this was shown to be inaccurate. A long-term
live-in relationship can't be named a "walk in and walk out" relationship;
marriage must have a presumption.
In Gokal Chand v. Parvin Kumari
The Court informed the pair that their legitimacy would be questioned if there
was rebuttable proof that they were living together. These judgments aided in
the legitimization of marriages that had been questioned owing to the existence
of a long-term live-in relationship. On the other hand, the courts didn't
distinguish between live-in relationships and marriage formation, suggesting
that the belief in marriage was necessary.
In SPS. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan
, The Supreme Court ruled that
long-term cohabitation by a man and woman in the same home, they believe they
stay as spouse and wife under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, their
children are not unlawful. This decision indicated that long-term live-in
partnerships are legally regarded the same as marriages.
As this is still a matter of dispute, the courts may define live-in relationship
to entail "living together as husband and wife" in order to eradicate
individuals who form a live-in relationship "by choice" with no aim of marriage.
The Allahabad High Court held in Malti v. State of Uttar Pradesh
that a woman who lives with a man cannot be considered his "wife". The woman was
the man's chef, lived with him, and was intimately connected. It was also
decided that "wife" should not be interpreted as including a live-in partner's
support rights as defined in Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
In Chinmayee Jena v. State of Odisha,
Indian Judiciary has played a vital role in explaining the concept of Live in
relationship and defining the rights and liabilities of live in partners in a
"Love knows no bound has widened its bounds to encompass same-sex couples,"
Justice Ratho said.
The Orissa High Court recently made a ruling about a transgender man and woman's
ability to live together in this case.
In another important case "Khushboo vs Kanaimmal and another, the Supreme
Court observed "Though the concept of live-in relationship is considered immoral
by the society, but is definitely not illegal in the eyes of the law. Living
together is a right to life and therefore it cannot be held illegal."
Mohabbat Ali v. Mohammad Ibrahim Khan:
Privy Council pronounced that when a man and a woman cohabitated
continuously for a number of years, the law presumes that they are a married
Supreme Court of India in the case of Badri Prasad vs. Deputy Director of
The Supreme court for the first time recognized live-in relationships and upheld
the validity of a fifty-year live-in relationship.
In Gulzar Kumari v. State of Punjab
 and Ujjawal v. State of
, the Court refused to grant protection to couples cohabiting in
a live-in relationship, stating that such relationships are morally and socially
unacceptable, and is capable of destroying the social fabric of the Indian
A live-in relationship might be an objectionable and new concept in India, but
it is bourgeoning all over. In this contemporary lifestyle, which is partially
emerging due to the rapid impact of globalisation, people are not ready to take
responsibilities and indulge in a full-time devoted relationship.
For the youth voluntary relationship between couples based on the broader
understanding of domestic cohabitation as well as recognition of pre-nuptial
agreements, overall tolerance towards sexual preferences, etc. is a new
attraction. Live-in relationship attracts them as a better way to live like
marriage without marriage and any complications and worries , on the contrary,
it needs much more responsibility and awareness on the socio-legal perspectives.
Today, the society and other organisations have also joined the judiciary in
facilitating the legitimisation of the concept of live-in relationship, as the
country is slowly opening its door to western culture, ideas and lifestyles.
A notable step has been taken by the Madhya Pradesh State Women's Commission
which recommended that such unions be accorded legal status to secure the rights
of tribal women in live-in relationships. The concept is gradually being
accepted by the society now as a substitute for marriage but as an increasingly
It is now legalised, and PWDVA 2005 protects some of the rights of women in this
relationship. Nonetheless .There is a need for a separate law which should
emphasize socio, legal and secular aspects also to solve these complexities
which still exist in the live-in relationship.
From the above judgments of various High Courts and Supreme Court of India, it
can be concluded that the Indian judiciary has most of the time practiced
interpretation of laws while protecting the rights of women and children
associated with live-in relationship and certainly the Indian legal mechanism
lacks separate legislation which must deal with the cases of live-in
relationship and must provide with codified laws, and punitive measures.
One of the reasons why India lacks such laws is the moral and societal values
dominated by the sophisticated culture of India, however with time revolving,
there is an urgent need to enact new laws, and therefore, the legislature must
enact a separate law regarding the same.
- Aggarwal Nomita (2002), "Women and Law in India", New Century
Publications Benokraitis, N. V. (2011),
- Marriage And Families: Choices and Constrains, P. H. I. Learning Pvt.
Ltd., New Delhi. Diwan, Paras and Divan Peeyushi (1994),
- Women and Legal Protection, Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi. Gore
M. S. (1968), Urbanization and Family Change, Popular Prakashan
- Venkatesan, J. Amend law to protect women and children in live-in
relationships: Court. The Hindu 29 November 2013.
- Menon, Priya M. "Elders now explore Live-in Relationships." Times of
India 5 January 2014.
- Muradande, Vijay V. "Socio-Legal Dimension of Live-in Relationship: A
Challenge to Society."
- Madabhushi, Sridhar. "Live-in hassles." Witness. Vol.2, August 2010, p.
- (2006) 5 SCC 475
- AIR 1952 231
- 1994 AIR 133, 1994 SCC (1) 460
- 2000 CriLJ 4170
- Criminal writ petition 57/2020
- criminal appeal no. 913 of 2010
- (1929) 31 BOMLR 846
- 1978 AIR 1557, 1979 SCR (1) 1
- CWP No.11688 of 2018