Nitansh rai, Sukant singh rawat

live-in relationshipSignificance of Marriage

“Let There Be Faithfulness To Each Other Until Death. This, In Short, Should Be Known As The Highest Duty Of Husband And Wife. So Let Husband And Wife Ever Strive Doing All Their Duties; That They May Not Be Separated From Each Other, Wander Apart.

-Manu Dharma Shastra

9.101-2.Sd, 161

Centuries ago, civilized societies recognized and acknowledged the most basic instincts of all – i.e., the need for companionship – and founded an honorable institution known as marriage. Hindu ancestors set out some guidelines to make sure that the institution is a permanent one capable of not only bringing happiness to two young people but also providing a delicate balance so that the family enjoys the fullness of life within the framework of what they called Dharma, the Hindu code of right conduct

This may sound like a newly discovered concept by modern psychologists but an ancient Hindu prince known as Yudhishtira revealed this “secret” about 4000 years ago. In an episode known as YakshaPrashna in the AranyaParva of the great epic, the Mahabharata. One of the questions theYaksha asked Yudhishtira was

“kimsvinmitramgrhesatah?” i.e. who is the friend of a householder?

To which the prince answered

“bhaaryaamitramgrhesatah,” i.e., the friend of a householder is his spouse.


“The Wife Is Half The Man

The Best Of Friend,

The Root Of The Three End Of Life,

And Of All That Will Help Him In The Other World

With A Wife A Man Does Mighty Dees

With A Wife A Man Find Courage

A Wife Is The Safest Refuge……………………..”


According to Hindus, therefore, the basis for marriage is friendship and such friendship is the understanding, the promise and the commitment that unites a man and a woman. With such authority, there is then no question about the role of a woman, her importance, her position in this equation that binds them together.

According to Hinduism, marriage between two souls is a very sacred affair that stretches beyond one life-time and may continue up toat least seven lives. According to Manu, the daughter is given in marriage only once and she remains wife of that person to whom she is given in marriage, for her whole life. Thus, the Hindu Marriage connotes the idea of permanence. Permanence is attributed to the Hindu marriage by the fact that it is essentially a sacrament, a Hindu Marriage is said to be a sacrament because the marital relation between the spouse are created not on account of any contract between the two but by virtue of a gift of the girl by her father to the bride-groom. The gift is holy and accompanied with the religious ceremony of saptapadi. Because, in the ceremony of saptapadi the bride and the groom hold hands and take seven steps together as husband and wife as they walk around Agni, the God of fire and pledge to each other their eternal friendship. Marriage is a religious injunction intended to fulfill religious duties and to achieve the higher ends of life, namely, dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Marriage is essential because all the religious ceremonies and rites are to be performed by a Hindu in the companionship of his wife, otherwise they will not bear any fruit . Procreation of male offspring is one of the reasons behind marriage. Male issue was prized for it helped a Hindu to pay off pitririn, i.e. debt to his father. Also a Hindu achieves moksha only when upon his death his funeral rites are performed by his son. Thus, the Vedas declare “Endless are the world of those who have sons, there is no place for the man who is destitute of male offspring”


Evolution Of Live-In Relationship In India

India is a country, which is slowly opening its doors for western ideas and lifestyles and one of the most crucial episodes amongst it, is the concept of Live-in relationships. In ancient India, though the marriage was a general norm, the Hindu scriptures describe and admit the existence of premarital relationships as well. According to Manu, premarital relationships existed both in the Vedic period and afterwards, but was a rare occurrence . This concept of live-in relationship is not new in India; in ancient times it was known as maitri-karar in which a written agreement was made between the two opposite sex that they would live together as friends and look after each other.

Also, Gandharva marriage, i.e. one of the eight Hindu marriages, has incidents which are quite similar to that found in a live-in relationship . The concept of live-in-relationship is defined neither in dictionary nor in law. Live-in-relationship means a woman living with a man as husband and wife for a reasonable period, without marrying him. These relationships are called and stigmatized as socially ambiguous and sexually exploitative relationships.

“Married in haste, we repent at leisure”. The above line by William Congreve truly defines the mentality of the live in couples. The hectic lives of the metros don’t leave time for nurturing a family in its true sense. Now a days people are becoming more and more individualistic and career oriented. They spend less time at home and more time in offices.With more and more women going out for work, the nurturer of the family is not giving enough time for family and children. So actually why is there the need to go into marital bonding and forsake one’s liberty? Everyone likes a life free of tensions and responsibility. After working fornight shifts who want to get up early the next day to prepare children’s tiffin and make ready them for school? Whenever one thinks about live-in relationships the first question which comes in mind is, why couples believe in having such a relationship instead of legally, religiously and socially sanctioned marriage? There may be many answers to it such as-

1. Lifestyle:- In olden times, the lifestyle of an average Indian was such that a boy and a girl did not get much opportunity to interact with each other. Thus, the possibility of them entering into a live-in relationship was negligible. But today, a girl and a boy, either in an educational institution, or a workplace, or pub, a discotheque, etc., get ample opportunity to know and spend time with each other. This boosts the chances of them to enter into a live-in relationship.

2. Age of Marriage: – Earlier, the average age of marriage among Indians was quite low. A person was married at a very tender age and, therefore, there was really no chance for him/her to enter into a live-in relationship. But today, with the gradual increase in the age of marriage, there is abundant opportunity for a person to live-in.

3. Economic Independence: – Youngsters, especially in urban areas, are becoming more and more economically independent. Thus, there dependence on their respective families has considerably reduced, which in turn allows them to ignore the diktats of their families regarding their personal lives.

4. Away from home: – Many people, either for the purpose of education, job, etc., live away from their homes. Thus, they are not subject to the immediate control of their families. Also, the rent and other expenses in an urban area are quite unaffordable, which, if shared with someone, becomes bearable. These circumstances encourage the youngsters to enter into a live-in relationship.

5. Urbanization: – In the rural areas, every person is subject to strict social control; his conduct is always under the scrutiny of the fellow villagers. But as far as cities are concerned, there is no such control as no one is interested in the personal life of a person. Thus, there is ample freedom for a person to live as he likes.

6. Course, they cannot marry each other due to social hurdles. This is true in the case of a couple belonging to different religions, castes or classes, marriage between whom is still not approved by the society at large.


Legalization Of Live-In Relationship In India

At present there is no special law in India to deal with the concept of live-in relationships and its legality. However, the Courts in India, through their decisions in various cases, have laid down the law in respect of such relationships. Some of the landmark decisions of the courts in this regard are:-


1. Premarital sex and live-in not an offence:- The Fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants to all its citizens “right to life and personal liberty” which means that one is free to live the way one wants. Live in relationship may be immoral in the eyes of the conservative Indian society but it is not “illegal” in the eyes of law. In Payal Sharma v. Superintendent, Nari Niketan Kandari Vihar The Allahabad High Court has held that a lady of the age of majority has a right to go anywhere she wants and that both men and women can live together even without getting married. In Patel and others case , the Supreme Court of India held that live-in relation between two adults without a formal marriage cannot be construed as an offence. This stand was reiterated by the Supreme Court in the case Khushboo v. Kaniammal and another .

2. Presumption of Marriage: – Section 114, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, lays down that where independent evidence of solemnization of marriage is not available, it will be presumed to be a valid marriage by continuous cohabitation between the parties unless the contrary is proved. In Gokal v. Parvin , the Supreme Court held that continuous prolonged cohabitation raises a presumption in favour of marriage, and against concubinage.

3. Legitimacy of Children: – A necessary corollary of making a presumption in favour of a marriage is the presumption of legitimacy of child born out of such relationship.

In Radhika v. State of Madhya Pradesh it was held that in the case of a live-in relationship, not only does the law presume in favour of a valid marriage, but also it deems the child born out of such a relationship to be legitimate. The Court also held that such children will have the rights in their parent’s property.

The same approach was adopted by the Supreme Court in a recently delivered judgment in the case of Veluswamy v, D. patchiammal .

4. Maintenance: – The courts have also conferred to a woman in a live-in relationship the right to claim maintenance.

In Abhijit Bhikaseth Auti v. State of Maharashtra and others , the Supreme Court also observe that it is not necessary for woman to claim maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A woman in a live-in relationship may also claim maintenance.

5. Application of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005:- The Domestic Violence Act is an Act enacted with the object of protecting women against Domestic Violence. The effect of Section 2(f) of the Act is that it brings within its ambit even the violence caused under a live-in relationship.


It is proposed that if a woman has been in a live-in-relationship for a reasonable period, she should enjoy the legal rights of the wife . The Committee also recommended the amendment of the definition of wife under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C (Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973) so that a woman live-in-relationship can get the status of a wife. .

Reincarnation of Marriage

The judgments mentioned above had caused great furore and were subjected to severe public anger, they were seen as a step to demolish the culture and tradition of India and to encourage the western concept of live-in relationship. But few do realize that these judgments have acted not as an incentive to live-in relationship, but as a discouraging factor. An analysis shows that the characteristics of live-in relationship which attracts people towards it are lack of responsibility, freedom and lack of commitment. But the judgments of the courts in India have attached several responsibilities to the said relationship in the form of maintenance, presumption of marriage, legitimacy of children, etc. Thus, the legalization of live-in relationship defeats the very reason for which most urban and financially independent individual, especially youngsters of modern society, opt this as opposed to the institution of marriage. Attributing the incidents and consequences of marriage to live-in relationship, brings it ALMOST at par with marriage. Now, why would an ordinary prudent man opt for a live-in relationship, which is almost similar to marriage? He would rather go for marriage itself which involves stability, certainty and social recognition.

Thus, the courts in India, by their various landmark judgments, have re-instituted the institution of marriage. The live-in relationship in India has, to a considerable extent, become marriage with a different face.


“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years”.

Simone Signoret Need for the institution of marriage is inherent in every man. This fact is evident from the fact that the institution of marriage has evolved and is in existence in almost every civilized country. This need for marriage is rooted in the man’s urge for certainty and for achieving stability in life. Such stability and certainty can be achieved only through marriage. Therefore, whenever a new kind of relationship between a man and woman is innovated, it is bound to acquire the form and the traits of marriage. Same has been the case with live-in relationship; initially, it started of as something different from marriage, but gradually it has imbibed almost all the characteristics of a marriage.