Posted on: June 3, 2021 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author: Shivam Kumar, Student at Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies and School of Law (GGS IPU)


In the decade of the 21st century, the new concept of relationship emerged, which is termed as Live-in –Relationship. It is a type of relationship in which a man and a woman enter into a living agreement in which the couples are unmarried and live in the same house to contribute to a long-term relationship as in a marriage without getting legally married. As this concept is not new in our society, the only change is that now people know about this relationship openly because of various Supreme Court and High Court judgments which acknowledge this concept of Live-in – relationship and legalized it. In the Hindu methodology, this concept of living in a relationship is considered as an illegitimate relationship. As India moved further and searched for an alternative to marriage, the younger generation started considering the entire concept of marriage as a burden. So this is the drastic change in living together has been observed in the community. This relationship does not create any rights and responsibilities that are prevalent in the case of valid marriage. In this relationship, neither a man nor a woman is bound to have any kind of responsibilities towards each other. So this concept is very much criticized and discussed for its lack of legality and acceptance in society. In this article, the author only evaluates the concepts of the rise of life in relationships in the 21st century by various judgments and Supreme Court orders.

Keyword:-live in relationship, illegitimate, Indian constitution.


In love, there is always some chaos. Still, there is always a reason behind the chaos.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

In India, marriage is one of the religious institutions and marriage is basically based on the principal of forbearance and accountability. Live-in-relationship is a type of marriage which is also known as cohabitation. The term continuous cohabitation is defined as a significant period of time between partners who are not married to each other legally and sharing and living in a common household. This type of marriage is basically based on mutual understanding. It is a type of marriage where a couple without any marital status lives together in a relationship not for a long time but also identical as marriage.

In India, this type of relationship doesn’t have any particular definition and also has a lack of specific laws which can give rights to couples who are in a live-in – relationship.

The Supreme Court ruled in the case of S.Khushboo vs. Kanniammal & oth[1] that while living in relationships may be immoral in society due to religious and conservation concerns, it is not illegal in the eyes of the law. The concept of a live-in relationship is not new in India; it is commonly known as Maitri-Karar (friendship agreement), in which a written agreement is made between a couple who like to live under the same roof as friends and look after for Gadharva marriage[2]

Because there is no such legislation or social rules in India that elaborates on the subject of live-in relationships, the Supreme Court has taken these segments to elaborate on this concept through its judgment at a specific time and issued guidelines for such purposes. This article attempts to review recent Supreme Court and High Court decisions in order to assess the current legal status of such relationships.

The community is divided on whether or not it is acceptable to live in a relationship. On the one hand, there are some who believe that marriage is a sacrament and that it is required for the full legalization of sexual relationships between men and women; they assert that live-in relationships damage the social fabric of society, causing uncertainty, and hence should not be acknowledged On the other hand, advocates of this concept argue that because we live in the twenty-first century, young people should be allowed to choose their partners and so choose whether they are compatible enough to engage in a religious institution like marriage.

Couples in live-in relationships have a greater opportunity to get to know each other while still having the choice to end the relationship whenever they want. However, they must overcome numerous social and legal obstacles. Women are frequently disadvantaged in such relationships. The Supreme Court has created guidelines to govern such relationships as well as to protect women’s rights involved in the relationship and the children born as a result of it, as mentioned earlier. For the new generation, social values and standards have modified. While a live-in relationship may be acceptable in some situations, the importance of marriage in sustaining social order can not be emphasized. What’s more vital, according to a psychiatrist, is to be involved in a good, productive activity.  It is preferable to be in a loving and meaningful relationship than to be alone or trapped in an unhappy, negative, and troublesome relationship.


SHIV VISHWANATHAN: There is no doubt over the mobility of today’s generation in both aspects, i.e. emotional and physically. The spouses can easily fit in others’ shoes if they are not happy.

WAZIDA RAHMAN: In her book Live-in Relationships and the Status of Women in India (2015), she explains how harm can help a woman in a marriage bind if her husband is in a live-in relationship.

Rajiv Bhattacharya’s live-in relationship and its impact on Indian traditional society A critical Socio legal study (2016): He has argued that cohabitation and live-live-in-relationships frequently take an individualistic and human-rights-based approach. However, it finds difficulty in making a social fabric in the Indian Society.


In the current scenario In India, no law deals with the concept of Live –In-Relationship but due to the lack of specific legislation on the subject of Live –In –Relationship. India is very meritorious that our judicial system is taken as a vital initiative and gives a certain perception to such a relationship. In precedent cases, the court only accepts marriage if there has been no year of cohabitation.

In cases prior to the Declaration of Independence, such as A. Dinohamy v. WL Blahamy[3], where a man and woman are proven to live together as a married couple without marriage, the law will apply unless the contrary stated that they were cohabitation as a results of a legitimate marriage.

The court determined in the case of Alok Kumar v The State of NCT of Delhi[4] that living in a relationship could be a get in and get out relationship.It doesn’t produce any legal obligations on the partner’s cohabitation, and therefore the partner’s cohabitation can not approach the court alleging the opposite partner of any unfaithfulness. Some conservatives believe that being in a relationship is a crime, and that people who are in relationships should be punished.In the well-known case of Payal Katra v. Superintendent[5], Nari Niketan associate degreed others, the Supreme Court held that there’s no law that prohibits living in a relationship and thus if two couples cohabit while not married, it can’t be construed as illegitimate and it’s not an offence.The subsequent question that arises is whether or not ladies in a very live-in relationship are entitled to any maintenance, particularly under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. One of all the reports submitted by the National Commission of ladies to the Ministry of ladies and Child Born out advised that girls living in a very live-in relationship ought to be entitled to maintenance.However, the live-in partner will claim compensation under the domestic violence Act. In the case of Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand[6], the Supreme Court ruled that a live-in partner who is not married with validity will not be entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Crpc, but can seek substantial compensation under the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.As a result, whether a live-in partner is married or not, he or she will be able to file a claim for compensation.

If living in a relationship continues for a long run and the couples present their relationship to society as a husband or wife, they get acknowledged as a legally married couple.

After independence, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Badri Prasad v D Y Director of consolidation[7], acknowledged that the Live-In relationship was a valid marriage. “If an unmarried couple living together as a husband and wife in society are forced to prove after a half decade of wedlock by eye witness evidence that they were validly married fifty years ago, few will succeed,” the court stated. If the couple lives together as husband and wife in the long run, there is a strong presumption in favor of wedlock. Although the presumption is rebuttable, whoever seeks to deprive the relationship of its legal origin bears a heavy burden. ‘[8]

The Supreme Court declared that for a man and a woman who are in love to live together on the same roof is a part of the right to life and not a criminal offence, so live-in relationships are legal in India. As we observed, live-in relationship is a part of the right to life and personal liberty which is stated in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Khushboo vs. Kamaimmal [9]and others that while the concept of live-in relationships is considered immoral by the community, it is not illegal in the eyes of the law. The Supreme Court also stated that living together in the same household is a right to life and personal liberty and it can’t be held illegal in the eye of the law.

The Supreme Court decided in “Indra Sarma vs VKV Sarma[10]” that all live-in relationships are not marriage-like. In this case, it was determined that the appellant, knowing perfectly well that the respondent was married, could not have entered into a live-in relationship in the form of marriage since it lacks the inherent or necessary characteristics of marriage because it has no inherent or essential characteristic of a marriage, but a relationship other than in the nature of marriage. The Court further made the following observations in this case.Such relationship may endure for a long time and can result in a pattern of dependency and vulnerability, and an increasing number of such relationships calls for adequate and effective protection, especially for the woman and children born out of that live-in-relationship.

The legislature, of course, cannot promote premarital sex, though, at times, such relationships are intensively personal and people may express their opinion, for and against[11].

Thus, Parliament has to ponder over these issues, bring in proper legislation, or make a proper amendment of the Act, so that women and the children born out of such categories of relationships are protected, although such relationship might not be a tie in the kind of a marriage. In the case of Lata Singh v. the state of UP It was determined that a live-in relationship between two unmarried couples, while deemed immoral by society, does not constitute an offense under the law.

Despite the fact that live-in relationships are widely accepted in Western countries, they continue to be socially restricted, owing primarily to Hindu Dharma. In Hindu Dharma, marriage is viewed as an eternal union that cannot be broken, and thus, if married, you must remain together for seven generations. However, living in relationships as per some Hindu philosophers is unrighteous and should not be practiced. However, it should be realized that if anyone wants to live together as per their wishes, they should be given that much liberty to do that in a democratic setup and those couples must not be victimized.


From various implied provisions and statutes, live-in-relationship has found its recognition in various countries. When it comes to the rights of unborn children, however, the law of various countries acts as a uniform tenor, discouraging live-in relationships by law.

In the United States, there is a document known as a ‘cohabitation agreement,’ which contains every mention of obligations and liabilities that a party should have during the course of a live-in relationship. The California Supreme court, Marvin v. Marvin[12], coined the term palimony, which means that a woman should be granted maintenance if she lived with a man for a certain period of time without marrying him. Though there are laws in the United States regarding live-in relationships, they are still in the process of evolving.

Before entering into a live-in relationship in China, couples sign an agreement. And the child born from this relationship has the same right to succession and inheritance as the child born after marriage.

France: In France, couples of the same or opposite sex can enter into a revocable live-in-relationship agreement. This legal status was passed by the French National Assembly in 1999.

United Kingdom: couples do not enjoy legal sanctions. However, it is the onus of parents to bring up the children whether they are married or not.


While deciding a case involving the legitimacy of a child born out of wedlock, the Supreme Court observed that if a man or a woman has been in a live-in relationship for a long time, they are treated as a married couple, and the child born out is treated as legitimate.

In the case of SPS Balsubrimaniam v Suruttayan[13], it was determined that if a man and a woman live together as husband and wife for a long time, the law presumes that they are in favor of being legally married to each other until and unless proven otherwise, and that children born out of such relationship are also entitled to inheritance in the property of the parents.

A Supreme Court bench led by Honorable Justice Arjit Prasayat stated that children born from such a relationship will no longer be considered illegitimate. The recent changes were introduced in a statue through the Domestic violence Act 2005 gives protection to women who were in such a relationship for a reasonable long period[14].

The Supreme Court also ruled that a child born in a live-in relationship did not have the right to inherit the Ancestral coparcenaries property. According to Hindu law, they can only claim their parents’ property. It was discussed in the landmark case of Bharata Matha & ors v R.Vijaya Renganathan & oth[15] that if a child is born in such a relationship, they may be allowed to compel inheritance in the property of parents’ property but does not claim on the ancestral coparcenaries property but in the essence of the above judgment there is most need of the provision in the statutes which deals with latent inheritance.


The current stereotype of live-in relationships necessitates an immediate change in the socio-legal aspect of couples of majority age, which is a challenge not only to the socio-legal but also to the laws of marriage, which is considered a sacrament. Marriage laws must be followed regardless of religion, but what about a person’s words and their standing under the Indian constitution? At the same time, it cannot be denied that such a relationship does not exist in any of the personal laws. Previously, in this paper, we have analyzed how some opinions and efforts have been made considerably towards live-in-relationship and legislatures too cannot afford to turn a blind eye towards it.


The issue of the legality of live-in-relationship also brings us towards the right to equality envisaged under the constitution of India. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees every person “equality before the law and equal protection of the law,” and Article 21 guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. The terms “equality before the law” and “right to life” should not be read merely as a fundamental right, but as an obligation on the state as well, as bringing laws for such a relationship is not to be a subject of law but a duty.


Various opinions have been made, identified, and documented the problem, and the judiciary has also many times opined in favor of the legality of live-in-relationship. This can only be preceded by making a much more classified definition of the term “live-in relationship” by changing the degree of morality and acceptability of the custom. There are some changes been suggested herein: A written cohabitation agreement must be executed, similar to a premarital agreement, defining many topics such as the holding of separate or joint bank accounts, the care of children, data about their estates, movable and non-movable properties, and who will have what part following separation?

A paternity agreement must be signed by an unmarried father.

A full-proof legitimacy must be provided for such relationships.

Overall, the current focus should be on framing laws on live-in-relationships, couples of such relationships, and their rights and obligations, rather than on the legality of such relationships.


[1] S.khushboo vs. kanniammal & oth criminal appeal no. 913 of 2010


[3] A. Dinohamy v. WL Blahamy AIR 1927 PC 185

[4] Alok Kumar v The State of NCT of Delhi CR M NO.299 of 2009

[5] Payal Sharma v. Superintendent, Nari Niketan Kalindri Vihar, 2001 3 AWC 1778 ALL

[6]  Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand Criminal appeal no 1656 of 2015

[7]  Badri Prasad v DY Director of Consolidation 1979 SCR (1) 1

[8] ibid

[9] supra note 2

[10]  Indira sarma v Vkv Sarma  15 SCC 755

[11] ibid

[12]Marvin v Marvin L.A. No. 30520. Supreme Court of California. December 27, 1976

[13] SPS Balsubrimaniam v Suruttayan AIR 1992 SC 756


[15] Bharata Matha & ors v R.Vijaya Renganathan & oth Civil no 7108 of 2008

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