India has a very diverse culture and society. Despite continuous influx of traditions and practices from other cultures, it has remained indigenous to quite an extent.
The Indian society has also grown over the years and is still evolving. But it is still enveloped in its centuries old traditions and taboos.
The trend of live-in relationships in which a couple cohabit outside marriage without any legal obligations towards each other, is growing in India, especially in metro cities.
In the Indian society, where marriages are considered a sacred bond between two people, neither accepts nor permits a boy and girl living in a sexual relationship without the obligations of marriage.
If not society, our courts have understood the changing dimensions and very well accepted the increasing global trend of live-in relationships.
A boy and girl, who are not minor, with their mutual consent can live together in a sexual relationship without being married.
However, the legal status of such relationships is unclear but Supreme in a landmark decision in 2013 had ruled that a man and woman living together for a prolonged period shall be presumed married if not proven otherwise.
In Lata Singh v. State of U.P. (AIR 2006 SC 2522) it was observed that “a live-in relationship between two consenting adults of heterosexual sex does not amount to any offence even though it may be perceived as immoral.”
In Indra Sarma vs V.K.V.Sarma on 26 November, 2013, the SC has ruled that the “decision to marry or not to marry or to have a heterosexual relationship is intensely personal.”
The apex court had also issued some guidelines to protect the women in live-in relationship under the Domestic Violence act.
The period of relationship, shared household, pooling of resources, having children are some of the guidelines the Supreme Court had framed to “determine the relationship in nature of marriage.”
The top court’s guidelines say, having babies is a strong indication of the “relationship in nature of marriage” and children out of live-in relationships will not be termed illegitimate.
However, the above guidelines were just part of Supreme Court’s ruling in cases of live-in relationship and there is no low to regulate such relations.