Important Case Law on Live in Relationship

  • Velusamy vs. D.Patchaiammal, 2010
  • The judgment determined certain pre-requisites for a live-in relationship to be considered valid. It provides that The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses and must be of legal age to marry or qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried
  • Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of  Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal AIR2011SC479 held that a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ under the Act 2005 must also fulfill the following criteria:
  • (a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as if they are spouses,
  • (b) They must be of legal age to marry,
  • (c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried and
  • (d) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time, and in addition, the parties must have lived together in a ‘shared household’ as defined in Section 2(s) of the Act 2005.
  • Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V.Sarma,2013, The Court stated that a live-in relationship will fall within the expression “relationship in the nature of marriage” under Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act,2005. Though the concept of a live-in relationship is considered immoral by society, but is definitely not illegal in the eyes of the law. The Supreme Court states that living together is a right to life and therefore it cannot be held illegal.  The court has also tried to improve the conditions of the women and children borne out of live-in relationships by defining their status under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 if the relationship is proved to be a “relationship in the nature of marriage.

 

  • A Live-in or marriage-like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin though socially unacceptable in this country. The decision to marry or not to marry or to have a heterosexual relationship is intensely personal.
  • duration of the relationship, shared household, • Pooling of resources and financial arrangement between the parties • Domestic arrangements, • children, • socialization of relationship in public.
  • “live –in or marriage-like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin though socially unacceptable in our country. Long-standing relationship as a concubine, though not a relationship in the nature of marriage, of course, may at times deserves protection because that woman might not be financially independent, we are afraid that Domestic Violence Act, 2005does not take care of such relationships which may perhaps call an amendment of the definition of section 2(f) of the D V Act, which is restrictive and exhaustive.”
  • The Court asked Parliament to bring in proper amendments to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Actor enact suitable legislation so that women and children born out of live-in relationships are protected, though those types of relationships might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage.
  • it also categorized live-in relation into five types of relationships.
  • Following are the categories:
  • Domestic relationship between an adult male and an adult female, both unmarried. It is the most uncomplicated sort of relationship
  • A domestic relationship between a married man and an adult unmarried woman entered knowingly.
  • A domestic relationship between an adult unmarried man and a married woman entered knowingly. Such a relationship can lead to a conviction under the Indian Penal Code for the crime of adultery
  • A domestic relationship between an unmarried adult female and a married male entered unknowingly
  • Domestic relationship between same-sex partners ( gay or lesbian)
  • The Court stated that a live-in relationship will fall within the expression “relationship in the nature of marriage” under Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act,2005 and provided certain guidelines to get an insight of such relationships.
  • It stated that there should a deep analysis of the relation on the individual level to come under its purview.
  • The Apex Court in the Indra Sarma case, however, made a small concession in favor of bigamous arrangements, which was not made in the Velusamy case.
  • In the Velusamy case, the Apex Court was of the view that the unmarried status of a man and woman is one of the essential conditions for a relationship in the nature of marriage.
  • However, in the Indra Sarma case the court took a slightly different view as it mentioned that a relationship between an unmarried woman and a married adult male can be considered a relationship in the nature of marriage within the definition of section 2(f) of the DV Act, as long as the woman unknowingly entered into the same.
  • In other words, lack of knowledge on the part of the woman about the marital status of the man with whom she has been living for a long time incapacity of the wife may entitle her to claim relief under the 2005 Act.
  • In the case of S. Khushboo vs. Kanniammal & Another 2010 (4) SCALE 462, the Supreme Court held that living together is a right to life. Live-in a relationship may be immoral in the eyes of the conservative Indian society but it is not illegal in the eyes of law.
  • In this case, all the charges against Kushboo, the south Indian actress who endorsed pre-marital sex and live in a relationship were dropped. The Court held that how can it be illegal if two adults live together? Live together is not an offense.
  • Premarital sex was one of the issues discussed, and views were gathered from the different segments of society. Khushboo, a south Indian actress, opined on the issue, saying that the incidence of premarital sex was an increasing phenomenon.
  • The actress vehemently defended herself by saying: ‘The persons who are protesting against my interview are talking about which culture? Is there anyone who does not know about sex in Tamil Nadu? Is there anyone who does not know about AIDS? How many men and women do not have sex before marriage? Why are people saying that after the marriage the husband and wife should be honest and faithful to each other? One should have confidence in the other, only to avoid the mistakes from being committed. If the husband, without the knowledge of the wife, or the wife, without the knowledge of the husband, [either] has sex with other persons, if a disease is caused through that, the same will affect both the persons. It will also affect the children.
  • The repercussions of this statement unraveled in the form of as many as twenty-one criminal complaints being filed against the actress under Sections 499, 500, 509, 153-A, and 292 of the IPC, read with Sections 4 and 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, in various separate jurisdictions. The ignominy of the situation was that Khushboo was made to run from pillar to post in courts spread across several territories. To get respite from this constant prosecution, she approached the High Court of Madras to quash these complaints. Despite clear indications that this was a matter of political victimization, the high court refused to step in and directed the chief judicial magistrate to combine all the complain
  • It was held that Khushboo neither intended to cause harm to the reputation of complainants nor could any actual harm be discerned from her remarks. She had not suggested that all women in Tamil Nadu engage in premarital sex but had merely addressed how premarital sex was viewed in society at the time.
  • The Khushboo judgment not only brings to light the totalitarian face of the majoritarian belief but preserves the confidence of rational people in the judiciary.
  • On analyzing the facts, it was crystal clear that the actress did not intend any such thing to the reputation of the complainant and, thus, both mens rea and actus reas were missing.

 

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