Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Live-in Conundrum - Watch Tower: Walk-in and walk-out!

Live-in Conundrum - Watch Tower: Walk-in and walk-out!

India is a country, which is slowly, opening its doors for western ideas and lifestyles and one of the most crucial episodes amongst it, is the concept of live in relationship.

The Supreme Court also opined that a man and woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence.
"When two adult people want to live together what is the offence. Does it amount to an offence? Living together is not an offence. It cannot be an offence," a three judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan observed.The court said even Lord Krishna and Radha lived together according to mythology without marriage.

The apex court said there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex.Due to marital disputes counter cases are filed by both the parties and these criminal cases take years to decide. Large number of cases, complaints filed under the anti-dowry law are either false or exaggerated. To avoid these complications, in metro cities more and more people are going for live in relations. In live-in relations there is no legal commitment between the parties, therefore the Supreme Court itself which has given strict directions to all the State governments of Indian States to enact laws to make the Registration of Marriage Compulsory process in a Valid Marriage irrespective of the religion of the parties. Let only the properly registered marriages recognized as legally valid marriage.

The recent decision of Delhi High Court on criminal proceedings initiated by the girlfriend / live-in partner of a London-based solicitor Alok Kumar, based on his refusal to marry her, Hon'ble Delhi High Court has ruled that, partner in a live-in relationship can walk out of it at any point of time without any legal consequence and neither of the partners can complain of infidelity if one ditches the other.
Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra said, Live-in relationship is a walk-in and walk-out relationship. There are no strings attached in this relationship, nor does this relationship create any legal bond between the parties. People who chose to have live-in relationship cannot complain of infidelity or immorality as live-in relationships are also known to have been between a married man and an unmarried woman or vice versa. Kumar is understood to have been a married man with a family in London while he was in his five-year live-in relationship with his girlfriend. The girlfriend is a divorcee with a child.

While granting relief to Alok Kumar, the Court said that the FIR should be quashed to prevent misuse of the criminal justice system for personal vengeance. The girlfriend had filed the FIR with the police at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi following an altercation between her and Alok Kumar at the Departure Terminal. The FIR listed charges against Alok Kumar for outraging the girlfriends modesty, committing mischief against her and charges of rape. The girlfriend had also taken possession of Alok Kumar's passport by snatching it from him.

The Court stated, a contract of living together is renewed every day by the parties and can be terminated by either of the parties without consent of the other party and one party can walk out at will at any time. This is a clear signal on the legal ramifications for those who want and those who do not want to enter into this kind of relationship of walk-in and walk-out.

But the Supreme Court got an opportunity towards the lively debate on legitimacy of the ˜live in relationship as well as legitimacy of kids given birth to out of this kind of relationship, the Top court has decided the fact that such children are not necessarily unlawful. The Supreme Court has additionally held that such kids possess a right to inherit the properties left behind by one of the partners in this kind of relationship.

If a man as well as a lady are living under the same roof and living together for quite a few years, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate, said a bench of Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan. The bench said the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubine.

Despite the judgement of the court on case to case basis it is high time, Government comes out with a legislation that brings trans perency in the live in relationship. The story of the individual cases underline the fact that live in relation is not merely a contract between two individual but new foreign element to our existing culture supported by institution of marriage. So this relation is very near informal legitimacy of husband and wife, which has its ramification to the children born out of this relation. Each legislation has its root in Indian culture and social customs, the new legislation should evaluate that aspect while incorporating new changes of the dynamic society. At this juncture this matter is open to debate and needs immediate attention of Government.

Nitin Saxena


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