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Live in relationships Morally, Socially Unacceptable says Punjab and Haryana High Court

Live in relationships Morally, Socially Unacceptable says Punjab and Haryana High Court


  • GS 2 || Polity || Constitutional Framework || Fundamental Rights

Why in the news?

A 19-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh and a 22-year-old man from Punjab — had moved the High Court seeking directions to Punjab Police to protect their life and liberty from the woman’s family.

Present Context:

  • As a matter of fact, the petitioners in the garb of filing the present petition are seeking seal of approval on their live-in-relationship, which is morally and socially not acceptable and no protection order in the petition can be passed. The petition stands dismissed accordingly.
  • The woman’s family was opposed to their inter-caste marriage. Fearing a threat to their lives and liberty, they ran away from their house. They sought protection from the court in order to proceed with their wedding.

All about Live in relationships

Changing dynamics of Indian society- Live in relationships

  • The Indian society is ever dynamic. Its customs and practices have seen loads of dynamism and an excellent influence from the western culture.
  • The Indian society has shown a forceful modification in their living patterns from women engaging at night in BPOs/Call centers, folks moving to completely different states in search of higher education and employment to millennials taking cabs rather than shopping for cars.
  • People within the society have opened their minds to the concept of Western life-style and living an independent life-style away from cultural and family boundations.
  • Live-in-Relationship is only a meeting between the parties; once a celebration to a live-in-relationship determines that he/she doesn’t like to measure in such a relationship, that relationship comes to a finish. Hence, it’s referred to as a walk-in & walk-out relationship.
  • Live-in-Relationship is neither against the law nor a Sin, although it’s unacceptable to the sure extent within the Indian society. in a very country like India, wherever marriages are thought of as a social foundation to legitimize the connection between a person and a girl, the idea of Live-in-Relationship has created a replacement dimension within the arena of men-women relationship

The Supreme Court has, in several rulings, held that live-in-relationships are not illegal:

  • In Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2006), it was held that a live-in relationship between two consenting adults of heterosexual sex does not constitute an offense, despite the fact that it may be considered immoral.
  • In Khushboo v. Kanniammal & Anr (2010), the court ruled that living together is a right to life.
  • The court stated in Indra Sarma v. VKV Sarma (2013), “A live-in or marriage-like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin, though it is socially unacceptable.” The decision to marry or not to marry, as well as whether or not to have a heterosexual relationship, is deeply personal.”
  • The freedom to select one’s life partner is an important aspect of the right to life, according to Shafin Jahan v. Asokan (2018), and social approval of intimate personal decisions should not be the basis for recognising them.
  • In Navtej Johar v. Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made voluntary homosexual relationships illegal.
  • At the same time, Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act provides cover to women who are in a “relationship in the context of marriage,” but all live-in relationships do not count as such.

Following are the guidelines given by Supreme Court for live in relationship:

  • Duration of Period of Relationship: The phrase “at any point in time” is used in Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act to denote a fair period of time to establish and continue a relationship, which can vary from case to case depending on the facts.
  • Shared Household: The expression has been defined under Section 2(s) of the DV Act and, hence, need no further elaboration.
  • Pooling of Resources and Financial Arrangements: Financially supporting each other, or any one of them, by sharing bank accounts, purchasing immovable assets in joint names or in the name of the woman, long-term investments in company, shares in separate and joint names, and so on, can be a guiding factor in maintaining a long-term partnership.
  • Domestic Arrangements: Entrusting the responsibility of running the home to the woman, as well as doing household tasks including washing, cooking, maintaining or upkeep the house, and so on, is a sign of a marriage-like relationship.
  • Sexual Relationship: A marriage-like relationship is one in which the sexual relationship is for more than just pleasure, but also for emotional and intimate purposes, such as procreation of children, emotional and intimate reasons, such as procreation of children, emotional care, companionship, and material affection, among other things.
  • Children: Having children is a good indicator of a marriage-like partnership. As a result, the parties agree to have a long-standing relationship. Sharing the responsibility for bringing-up and supporting them is also a strong indication.
  • Public Socialization: Holding out to the public and socializing with acquaintances, relatives, and others as if they were husband and wife is a strong situation to keep the relationship alive..
  • Intention and Conduct of the Parties: Common intention of parties as to what their relationship is to be and to involve, and as to their respective roles and responsibilities, primarily determines the nature of that relationship.
  • In a landmark decision in 2015: The Supreme Court ruled that couples living in live-in relationships are presumed to be legally married. The woman in the partnership will also be entitled to inherit the property after her husband died, according to the Bench.

Pros and Cons of Live-In Relationships:


  • Freedom or choice to live in: It is welcomed because it lays down emphasis on individual freedom. It opens frontiers to understand the personality traits of their partner well.
  • Easy to move on: Since there are no legal complications in a live-in relationship, walking out of such a relationship would be much easier than walking out of a marriage. Metro life that throws floodgates supports this kind of an arrangement.
  • No legal compulsion– As live-in relationships are easier to establish as well as dissolve. Easy dissolution of marriages leads to hampering human relationships and can pose a threat to the safety and security of the society.
  • Religious boundaries are broken: Live in has a benefits to spend life with someone a person love breaking the caste and religion barrier made by society tends to love and respect all religion and caste
  • Responsibility sharing- These relations, based on equal status of both, also gives common responsibility sharing for the time period without any future liability. This gives ease of life to working couples with postponement of marriages .Somehow this is encouraging as it empowers women to earn and defy the regressive norms prevalent in society.


  • Objectionable social behavior: Social scientists have already identified grave social problems like young age pregnancy of adolescent girls, drug abuse, violence and juvenile delinquencies and in the wake of the controversial ruling, the erstwhile objectionable social behaviour gets legalized, many felt.
  • Parent’s decisions are not respected: New generation will be more spoiled. They will prefer live-in relationships to marriages arranged by their parents. There is no guarantee that the male in such a relationship will turn out to be a loyal partner in the long run or would not leave the woman with their issues and run away without prior notice.
  • Illicit relationships: Many say on one govt. hand has banned dance bars because they are spoiling the social atmosphere, while on the other it is promoting illicit relationships through amendments
  • Discouraging Indian culture: Many Social police says it is sin for the cultural and traditional society like India where marriage is said as an agreement made with blessing of god and marriage, live in is discouraging the culture

Concerns associated with live in relationship:

  • Social institutions like marriage might lose its value: In stating that women in live-in relationships are ‘kept’ as concubines, it ignores the possibility that such relationships could be a viable alternative in cases where marriage is legally or socially prohibited.
  • Physical and sexual exploitation: Live in relation has no boundaries all rights are same as marriage where sexual and physical exploitation is also a concern but society hardly listen to victim as it assumed as a choice of victim
  • Women are always questioned and targeted: At another level, by equating women who cohabit with concubines, it entrenches the patriarchal Madonna-whore dichotomy: Which means that women can either be good women who abide by the societal boundaries set for them, committed to relationship or bad women who dare transgress these boundaries.
  • Article 19 of the Constitution: It protects the right to freedom of speech and expression, includes the freedom to express one’s identity, sexual preferences, and love.
  • Child future of live in parents: Child future of live in parents is never as normal as that of married couple society never accepts them with love and affection though law does


It is important to remember, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions, that being in a live-in relationship is a legitimate option that requires legal recognition and protection. Immorality is not the same as illegality. People may think live-in relationships are unethical, but that is their opinion, and it cannot be used to affect someone else’s decision. Moral policing is not acceptable, particularly when the agreement has the blessing of the fundamental rights touchstone. Joy, confidence, and mutual respect are the most important aspects of any partnership. Regardless of whether or not marriage is socially sanctioned, the presence of these makes every partnership happy.