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Legality of Live-in relationship in India: Need for change of society and Legal framework

Legality of Live-in relationship in India: Need for change of society and Legal framework

This Article is written by Harsh Khatri, 3rd year Law intern from the University of Petroleum and energy studies dehradun. 


There is no explicit law in India that regulates or forbids live-in relationships. However, live-in relationships are accepted by the legal system and have been granted legitimacy by numerous court decisions. A live-in relationship between two consenting adults is not against the law or unethical, according to the Supreme Court of India in a number of judgements. It being a new phenomenon, the Law is evolving in this field.

There are three things that should be kept in mind when we talk about live-in relationships:

★    Live-In relationship is not illegal;
★    Being in a live-in relationship is not a crime or offence;
★    It is not a sin.

Marriage is not a requirement for being in a live-in relationship. Adults can enter into a live-in relationship with their own wishes and consent. We all know that Indian society is largely conservative and that cultural and traditional factors can lead to differences in opinion from different sectors where people live with the dignity of respecting traditions that have been followed for generations; therefore, it will be expected of them to do the same. Additionally, a couple in a live-in relationship is not granted the same rights as a married couple in India. 

First and foremost, a married man cannot enter into a live-in relationship in India. As per Indian law, any sexual relationship outside of marriage, even if consensual, is considered adultery and is a punishable offence. It should be an open decision and your partner should be aware of it. If you are married and wish to live with someone else in a live-in relationship. Legally a person can be in such a relationship after having a divorce or dissolving their marriage. Additionally, in cases like this, no maintenance will be paid under section 125 of the code of criminal procedure, this also makes the divorce process easier.

A person who is not a minor above the age of 18 can perform or be in a live-in relationship, but social pressure, such as how they will make a living, will be a struggle.

To prevent any false allegations, a couple that is living together can come to an agreement in which certain things will be required of both sides.

Main issues 

➔    Is Indian society ready to let people perform such activities that are against their traditions? 
➔    Should the current guardianship, succession, and inheritance laws be modified to make allowances for these living-in relationships?
➔    If the government doesn’t legitimise this relationship then how it will affect the modern generation or the advancement of society? 
➔    Will the purpose of living in a relationship take a step towards the welfare of society or not?
➔    Should any amendments be made to this?
➔    Will a live-in relationship eventually lead to the non-existence of the marriage(when they will get equal rights which have been given to a married couple)? 

Laws related to live-in a relationship are as follows:

➢    The Indian Courts have given fair pronouncements upholding the right to liberty of individuals concerning the legality of such relationships, The Supreme Court held in the case of S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal and Anr. (2010) that the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution includes the freedom to cohabit without restriction.
➢    In the case of Lata Singh v. State of U.P. (2006), the Supreme Court ruled that, although live-in relationships are unethical, they are not against the law.
➢    In the case of BADRI PRASAD VS DY. DIRECTOR OF CONSOLIDATION 1978 The Supreme Court held that a live-in relationship between consenting adults of marriageable age and sound mind is legal under Indian law.
➢    Afterwards The Supreme Court held that if a couple is living together for a long time then such a relationship will be presumed to be a marriage.
➢    In the case of Madan Mohan Singh and Anr. v. Rajni Kant,  The Apex Court held that entering into live-in-relationship by two individuals cannot be an offence.
➢    Rights available in Live-in relationship Right to Maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Right of Inheritance of Property
➢    The Supreme Court held in the case of S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal and Anr. (2010) that the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the constitution includes the freedom to cohabit without restriction.


In India, live-in relationships are legal in some cases, but there is no explicit law governing them. Courts recognize them through rulings, but perceptions may vary based on cultural and societal standards. Legal protections and rights may not apply to live-in partnerships, and consulting a legal professional can provide guidance based on individual circumstances and prevailing precedents.


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