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Topic : Live-in Relationships in India: Evolving Legal Landscape

GS-2 Mains : Polity

Revision Notes

Recent Judgement:

  • The Allahabad High Court ruled that a Muslim cannot claim rights in a live-in relationship while having a spouse.
  • This judgement highlights the influence of religious tenets on legal interpretations of live-in relationships.

Overall Status:

  • India lacks specific laws governing live-in partnerships.
  • The Supreme Court has recognized live-in relationships as part of the “right to life” and not criminal.
  • Landmark judgements (2010 & 2022) established:
    • Protection for women in live-in relationships under domestic violence laws.
    • Inheritance rights for children born from such relationships.
  • The court presumes a long-term, cohabitating couple with children to be married, granting them similar legal rights.

Unresolved Issues:

  • The impact of religious beliefs on live-in relationships remains unclear.
  • Property rights for partners in live-in relationships are yet to be definitively addressed.

Live-in Relationships in India: Arguments For:

  • Changing Social Norms: Reflects a shift towards individual choice in partnerships.
  • Compatibility Testing: Allows couples to assess compatibility before marriage.
  • Financial Independence: Enables sharing expenses and financial independence.
  • Reduced Stigma: Gradually becoming more accepted, especially in urban areas.
  • Legal Recognition: SC judgments provide some rights and protections.
  • Personal Freedom: Represents individual freedom in love and relationships.

Live-in Relationships in India: Arguments Against:

  • Social Stigma: Disapproval and criticism from family and community.
  • Cultural/Religious Beliefs: Seen as conflicting with traditional values on marriage and family.
  • Family Pressure: Potential conflict with parents who may disapprove.
  • Legal Ambiguity: Unclear rights and protections for couples.
  • Lack of Financial Security: Women may feel pressure to marry for stability.
  • Impact on Children: Children may face social stigma and discrimination.
  • Lack of Social Support: Couples lack the same level of societal acceptance.
  • Media Influence: Concerns about Westernization eroding traditional values.
  • Potential for Abuse: Vulnerability to exploitation in the absence of legal protections.

The Way Forward:

  • Positive Media Portrayal: Normalize live-in relationships and reduce stigma.
  • Family Acceptance: Encourage open dialogue and understanding within families.
  • Upholding Individual Choice: Respect individual rights to choose their relationship dynamics.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/what-is-the-legal-position-on-live-in-relationships-explained/article68172438.ece#:~:text=India%20does%20not%20have%20any,is%20no%20longer%20an%20offence.

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