Centre for Socio Legal Research (CSLR) deposited A Research Study On Live-In Relationships In India on Humanities Commons 1 year, 1 month ago
Live-in relationships reflect the choice of two individuals to live together like partners without engaging in the institution of marriage. Years after independence, it is not just the Indian society that discriminates against people entering into live-in relationships but also the Indian legal system, which systematically discriminates between the socially acceptable institution of marriage and the “taboo” practice of being in a live-in relationship. The legal stature of these live-in relationships is rather unsettled and ambiguous. At times, the mindset of the judges sitting on the bench becomes the sole decider of whether the court will grant protection and sanction to a couple living in a live-in relationship or not.
Recent judgments delivered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court underscore this very fact. While in one case the Court refused to grant protection to a couple living in a live-in relationship, it granted protection in the other one by pronouncing that the courts should be guided by ‘constitutional morality and not merely by ‘morality’. The term “constitutional morality” was addressed in Manoj Narula vs. Union of India. These judgments prompt us to revisit the scope and extent of Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Furthermore, in K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, it was held that it should be the discretion of individuals as to how they want to lead their lives and State is only required to guarantee protection to individuals’ autonomy rather than imposing restrictions. Privacy also incorporates the right to live with dignity to fulfil the objective of personal liberty and freedom which are the cornerstone of the Indian Constitution and democracy. This paper discusses the legal stature of live-in relationships, and the decisions of courts in this regard, and argues for a more liberal application of the fundamental right granted under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.