LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIPS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
By- Yashjeet Singh Mehta and Udipti Chopra, 2nd Year students at Delhi Metropolitan Education.
Cohabitation or live-in relationships, as we all know, is a widely practised pattern of living in the western world. It is an arrangement wherein two adults consent to live together in an emotional or/and sexually intimate relationship for a long term or permanent basis. Even though Live-in Relationships have always been an issue in society as for Indian society, marriage is a very sacred institution, and live-in relations violates the morality of this institution, they are considered legal in the eyes of the law and any violence committed under such relationship is punishable.
Domestic Violence against women persists between husband and wife and even between the couples of live-in relationships. Section 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act, 2005, gives a woman the right to file a case against any such abuse in the household, which is unlawful.
THE LEGALITY OF LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIPS IN INDIA
As marriage in India is considered ‘sacred,’ people choose live-in relationships as it helps to check the compatibility as well as it exempts the family problems. If the relationship is not healthy, couples can break-up. Many cases in India have also been continuously sentenced, stating that it is entirely legal in the eyes of the law. In Khushboo v. Kanniammal, it was stated that live-in relationships come under the Right to life under article 21 of the Indian Constitution, making it legal.
But under this statement, there is a point stated in section 2(f) Domestic Violence Act that must be viewed upon, that the ‘relationship must be followed like marriage’ as described in VelusamyV. D. Patchaiammalis that:
Couples must represent themselves as comparable to spouses
Age of the couples should be the same as the age of marriage by law
They must live voluntarily and must represent themselves as akin to spouses for a considerable period.
In Indra Sarma V. V.K.V. Sarma in which a woman name Sarma started a live-in relationship with a man who was already married for two years and had two children after months of their live-in relation, she filed the case against him under Domestic Violence Act, 2005 but the court stated that firstly, she started living with a person who was already married and not yet divorced. Secondly, it stated that the relationship didn’t follow the rules, as stated in Velusamy V. D. Patchaiammal.
It refers to aggressive control and power over the other partner living together, which persists in marriage as well in a live-in relationship, which must be considered as an offence in both the scenarios. These percentages are extreme in India as men consider that they have every right on women in any way they feel is essential even it may lead to an offence. Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 states that “Domestic relationship means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship like marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.” It is still not accepted in the society in India, but it is legal.
In Smt. Sabana@ChandBai&Anr. V. Mohd. Talib Ali&Anr, in which a woman in a live-in relationship with the respondent has filed a case due to domestic violence. The court found out that the couple was living together, and there was a live-relationship, and the norms were followed accordingly. The court found the respondent guilty under sec—2 (f) of the Domestic Violence Act.
Supreme Court in Badri Prasad v. Director of Consolidation legalised the validity of live-in relationship to 50 years and also in the same case stated that if a person tries to seek out of the relationship on fact that no marriage took place, then it will not be a legal point. “Law leans in favour of legitimacy and frowns upon a bastard.”
Women in India need to be protected from domestic abuse. Male-dominance is still prevalent in India even though women are considered equally as men, and even though progress is made in the country, Violence against women and girls is still one of the reasons India has been held back. It creates a negative impact on children, and sometimes domestic violence is not contained between husband and wife, but children also become a part of this abuse. Most of the time, they are brutally beaten up by the father. Men believe that they have exclusive rights over a woman, and he can do anything he wants to do even though the consequences of this could lead to the death of women. Cigarettes burns on the body, red swelling around the face, and sometimes head damage can also be seen. Proper rules and laws are still not been made, and Violence persists. Women can’t even stand up against these people because they never want to go against their husband or their partner.
Live-in Relationships is a very controversial issue, and different people and different communities have different opinions upon the same. In most of the western countries, it is a widely accepted practice. Still, in a country like India, it is not very much accepted in the eyes of society, and they consider it like a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. However, it is accepted and protected under the law, as we mentioned in the above case laws.
These case laws help us understand the legality of a live-in relation and how it protects the rights of the partners in the relationship. Protection of women, especially, is vital under such a relationship as Violence against women is such a widely known issue. If a live-in relationship is lawful, there must be some laws and precedents to protect the rights of women and protect them from violence and cruelty by their partners.
(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)