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Marriage and Live-In Relationship in India: A Socio-Legal study

Introduction 

“Living with the partner has no defined meaning or scope. The phrase “live-in relationship” refers to a living situation in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that mimics marriage. To the outside world, a pair portrays themselves as a couple. ‘Live in a relationship’ refers to a relationship in which the parties are not married in the sense of a legal marriage solemnization. Nonetheless, the parties live as a couple, demonstrating to the rest of the world that their relationship is stable and consistent.

 A ‘common law marriage’ is a term used to describe such a partnership. Marriage is a wonderful feeling that can unite people of every skin tone, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. Yet, having more time altogether, and perhaps even moving in together, can help couples strengthen and discover their love for one another. The terms “marriage” and “live-in relation” become relevant in this context.

It is generally believed by society and the law that married spouses should live together. Social acceptance has its own allure and gratification. Young folks nowadays can stay with their spouses even without the constraints of arranged weddings because of the rise of live-in relationships. There are benefits and drawbacks to all these societally created ways of expressing and experiencing love and romance.

 Live-in Relationships and the Law

“There is no explicit legislation in India that addresses live-in partnerships. The Hindu 

Marriage Act of 1955 provides legitimacy, succession, and property rights to children born in ‘void’ and ‘voidable’ marriages. The 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act also provides some protection to the wounded parties from any sort of atrocity performed against females in “relationships like marriage”. 

“A woman in a live-in relationship is entitled to the same legal rights as a wife if she has been in such a relationship for a reasonable period. This does not make an invalid marriage valid or provide legal recognition to bigamous marriages. While giving support to the woman with whom he is in a bigamous/adulterous relationship, a man may face allegations of adultery and bigamy.”  

The Treatment of Live-in Relationships by Indian Judges

“The Indian judiciary does not explicitly promote or condemn such live-in relationships. In each case, the judiciary simply dispenses justice by the law. The primary goal of the judiciary is to prevent a miscarriage of justice. The judiciary analyses cultural norms and constitutional principles while deciding cases. The meaning of the term “like marriage” is not immediately clear, and the PWEDVA is already arguing about it.”  

“The petitioner in Aruna Parmod Shah Vs UOI[1] challenged the Act’s validity, claiming that it discriminates against men and that Section 2(f) of the Act’s definition of “domestic relationship” is unconstitutional. In the second instance, the petitioner argued that equating “marriage-like relationships” with “married” status deprives the lawfully married wife of her rights. The Delhi High Court dismissed both challenges to the Act’s constitutionality. In answer to the second charge, the court ruled that a wife, as well as a woman living with a man as his “common law” wife or even a mistress, should be regarded similarly. In this decision, the judges defined “a connection resembling marriage” to encompass both a “common law marriage” and a relationship with a “mistress,” without going into detail about the legal and social consequences of these terms.”  

The Allahabad High Court held in Payal Katara Vs Superintendent Nari and Others[2] that anybody above the age of 21 has the right to travel and that anyone, man, or woman, can live together if they like. In the case of Patel and others, the Supreme Court declared that a live-in relationship between two adults who are not married is not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in Lata Singh Vs State of U.P. & Anr[3] that live-in relationships are only permitted between married important individuals of different genders.”  

“The Apex Court ruled in the Radhika Vs State of M.P.[4] that if a man and woman have been living together for a long time, they would be regarded married and their child will be declared genuine. In Abhijit Bhikaseth Auto Vs State of Maharashtra and Others[5], the Supreme Court of India declared on September 16, 2009, that a woman does not have to establish her marriage to be entitled to maintenance under section 125 of the Cr.P.C. Under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman in a live-in relationship may be entitled to assistance.”  

“The Supreme Court awarded the live-in partner the status of the wife in Chellamma Vs Tillamma7. Katju J. and Mishra J. both stated that a man and a woman can live together even if they are not married in their opinion. Although society considers this immoral, it is not illegal. It is important to distinguish between law and morality.

The court went even further, declaring that children born to such a parent are legitimate and valid. The heirs of such a person can only inherit the property of his or her parents. This is because such offspring are not granted coparcenary rights to their parents’ inherited Hindu undivided family property.

During S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, the Supreme Court ruled that children born to unmarried parents in a common-law relationship are entitled to legal protection (1993). The Supreme Court has ruled that under Article 14 of both the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872, a probability of marriage exists when a man and a woman share a home and live together for a prolonged period. This means their offspring can officially be a part of the family tree and perhaps get an inheritance. 

The Apex Court ruled in Bharatha Matha v. Vijaya Renganathan (2010) that babies living with cohabiting couples are entitled to a share of their parent’s assets. The Apex Court determined that, if the connection lasts long enough, a kid born in such a situation may not be regarded as an illegitimate immigrant. 

They are the legal proprietors of their parents’ possessions. One benefit of the ruling is that it will not only deter couples from hastily divorcing, but it will also encourage couples to have children, who were previously anxious about their children’s future if they divorced. In Madan Mohan Singh & Ors. Vs Rajni Kant & Anr[6], the court held that a long-term live-in relationship cannot be deemed a “walk in and walk out” relationship and that the parties are presumed to be married.”  

India’s highest court has ruled that a live-in relationship is not a crime in the case of D. Velusamy Vs D. Patchaiammal[7]. The petition alleges that the appellant moved out of the respondent’s father’s house after two or three years and began living in his own country, but that he continued to visit the respondent regularly. According to the lower Family Court, the appellant was married to the respondent, not Lakshmi. The High Court and the Family Court Judge in Coimbatore’s rulings were overruled, and the matter was remanded to be considered again by the law.”  

“According to the judges in the case, the word marriage is not specifically defined in the PWDVA, 2005. The judges decided that a relationship like marriage is equal to common- law marriage, tying it to the prevalent “live-in” partnerships in the west. If a man had a ‘keep,’ whom he financially supports and hires solely for sexual purposes and/or as a servant, it would not be a marriage-like arrangement, the judges said. A ‘domestic relationship’ is more than merely hanging around on weekends or having a one-night stand. The Supreme Court’s ruling would exclude many ladies who have had a live-in relationship from benefiting from the 2005 Act.”  

By stating this, the judges appear to be implying that the term “live in relationship” has a far broader scope than “relationship like marriage”. In 2010, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a law requiring the parties to have a formal agreement before asserting palimony. Palimony is a phrase used in the United States to denote the provision of maintenance to a woman who has lived with a man for a long time without marrying him and then been abandoned by him. In Alok Kumar Vs State & Anr[8], the complainant sought to have his First Information Report (FIR) dismissed.”  

Suggestions 

  • “Legal system does not want to recognize all live-in partnerships as marriages. Only solid and sufficiently long-term relationships between the parties qualify for protection under the 2005 Act. “
  • “Simultaneously, it is not hostile to new emerging partnerships such as live-in couples, which are particularly common in cities. The judge should be pragmatic rather than dogmatic when dealing with such issues. “
  • “In the absence of unambiguous social and legal categorization of non-marital relationships, the field has been left wide open.”
  • “Even the highest court authorities preach on the need to separate a “relation like marriage” from a “servant” or a “keep” and a “one night stand”. It should also be noted that none of these legislative measures are intended to encompass the entire spectrum of live-in partnerships.”

Conclusion

“It is encouraging for the country that, rather than ignoring the problem, it has opted to take steps to safeguard women living in shared households, even if they are not married. Given India’s social and cultural context, enacting legislation to govern live-in relationships would be unwise. Most individuals choose this option to escape the burden and commitments that come with a long-term commitment.

 In the event of a dispute on whether to continue the partnership, a partner is free to come and go as he pleases without the tedium and complication of divorce processes. That is how some people prefer it. It is not the job of the government to regulate and monitor human lives and decisions on such a minute scale. “  

“It is a person’s choice whether to marry or get into a live-in relationship. I believe that the existing system in the United Kingdom and other nations should be studied. Couples should be able to sign cohabitation contracts outlining their rights and responsibilities if they so want.”  

“Even then, the rights and responsibilities will be limited in comparison to those granted in marriage. Another important aspect to consider is that, even under the Domestic Violence Act of 2005, the man in a live-in relationship has no legal rights. This part of Indian legislation must also be investigated.”  

“In India’s current marriage laws, common-law marriages, or partnerships in the form of marriage must be recognized and provided for. Wherever there is a need to change the legislation to give rights and responsibilities for such a partnership, it should be done. There is a need to restructure the legal system to meet societal changes, but there is no need to establish new and distinct legislation to do so.”  

References

  • Landmark Judgments- Live-In Relationship: SC’s Judgments Concerning the Legal

Standing   Of                Live-In      Relationships      lawyersclubindia,

https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/landmark-judgments-live-in-

relationshipsc-s-judgments-concerning-the-legal-standing-of-live-in-relationships-14068.

asp

 

 

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Written by- Anushka Satwani

[1] Aruna Parmod Shah Vs UOI 2008(102) DRJ543. 

[2] Payal Katara Vs Superintendent Nari and Others AIR 2001 All 254. 

[3] Lata Singh Vs State of U.P. & Anr AIR 2006 SC 2522. 

[4] Radhika Vs State of M.P. AIR 1966 MP 134, (1969) ILLJ 623 MP. 

[5] Abhijit Bhikaseth Auto Vs State Of Maharashtra and Others AIR 2009 (NOC) 808 (Bom.).  7 Chellamma Vs Tillamma AIR 2009 SC 112. 

[6] Madan Mohan Singh & Ors. Vs Rajni Kant & Anr AIR 1992 SC 756 

[7] D. Velusamy Vs D. Patchaiammal 2010 10 SCC 469 

[8] Alok Kumar Vs State & Anr 1968 AIR 453, 1968 SCR (1) 813  

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LEGAL JUDGMENT ANALYSIS: CRIMINAL CASE AND PROPERTY DISPUTE IN BOMBAY HIGH COURT

INTRODUCTION

The High Court of Bombay: Aurangabad Bench passed a judgement on 06 June 2023. In the case of SAGAR SURESH MUNDLIK AND ANOTHER Vs THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS IN CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO.420 OF 2023 which was passed by a division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE V. V. KANKANWADI and HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE Y. G. KHOBRAGADE the judgment involves multiple petitions filed by the same parties, all arising from a common set of facts.

FACTS

The judgment encompasses several petitions, including Writ Petition No.420 of 2023, which was initially filed for directions but later withdrawn by the petitioners. The remaining three petitions are Writ Petition No.266 of 2022, Criminal Application No.879 of 2023, and Criminal Application No.4436 of 2022.

Writ Petition No.266 of 2022 was filed by the original informant, who had lodged a FIR (First Information Report) with the Shirdi Police Station, seeking the transfer of the investigation to another agency and the addition of certain sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to the FIR. Criminal Application No.879 of 2023 was filed by the same informant, requesting permission to present additional documents. Criminal Application No.4436 of 2022 was filed by the original accused, seeking the quashing of the FIR.

LAWS INVOLVED:

1) Indian Penal Code (IPC):

  1. Section 166: This section deals with the offense of a public servant disobeying the law with intent to cause injury to any person. The petitioner sought to add this section to the First Information Report (FIR) alleging misconduct by the police authorities. This indicates that the petitioner believes the police authorities acted in violation of the law with the intention to cause harm.
  2. Section 167: This section pertains to the offense of a public servant framing an incorrect document with the intent to cause injury. It is unclear from the given information how this section is specifically invoked in the case. However, it is possible that the petitioner sought to add this section to the FIR to accuse the police authorities of falsifying or fabricating evidence.

2) Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC):

  1. Section 482: This section of the CrPC grants inherent powers to the High Court to quash any criminal proceedings if it deems necessary. In the given case, the accused relied on Section 482 to request the quashing of the FIR filed against them. This suggests that the accused believed there were grounds to argue that the FIR was baseless, and they sought the intervention of the High Court to dismiss the case.

KEY ARGUMENTS AND SUBMISSIONS

During the proceedings, learned counsels representing the petitioners and respondents presented their arguments. The learned Senior Counsel Mr. V. D. Sapkal, instructed by Mr. Yuvraj S. Choudhari, advocated for the original informant, emphasizing that the property in question was purchased by the petitioner and his wife. He claimed that the accused had trespassed into the property, demolished a wall, and stolen articles worth Rs.67,000. The counsel alleged that the police authorities had not properly investigated the matter and sought the involvement of a different agency. They also requested the addition of sections 166 and 167 of the IPC to the FIR against the police authorities.

On the other hand, the learned Senior Counsel Mr. R. S. Deshmukh, instructed by Mr. R. C. Bora, represented the original accused. He argued that the informant’s wife had sold the property to the accused, and therefore, the accusations of theft and trespassing were baseless. The counsel pointed out that the possession of the stolen articles was with the accused and argued against their classification as thieves. They referred to various legal proceedings and documents to support their claims.

JUDGE’S ANALYSIS AND DECISION

After considering the arguments presented by both sides, the judge analysed the sale deed and other relevant documents. They noted that the sale deed indicated that the property had been sold to the accused, and possession had been handed over. The judge also observed that the informant had not provided any documents to counter this claim. Based on this analysis, the judge found the accusations of theft and trespassing to be unsupported.

In light of the findings, the judge dismissed Criminal Application No.4436 of 2022, which sought the quashing of the FIR. The judge also disposed of Writ Petition No.420 of 2023, as it had been withdrawn by the petitioners. However, the judge did not provide a definitive decision on Writ Petition No.266 of 2022 and Criminal Application No.879 of 2023, which concerned the transfer of investigation and the addition of sections to the FIR. These matters may require further consideration.

CONCLUSION

This judgment showcases the complexities of a criminal case and property dispute. The judge carefully analysed the arguments presented by both sides and reached a decision based on the available evidence. While some petitions were disposed of or dismissed.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW

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COURT DISMISSES PETITION ALLEGING CULPABLE HOMICIDE AND NEGLIGENCE IN CONSTRUCTION SITE INCIDENT, AFFIRMS SUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED WITH CRIMINAL TRIAL AGAINST PETITIONERS: BOMBAY HIGH COURT

INTRODUCTION:

The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 04 May 2023 on a case involving allegations of culpable homicide and negligence at a construction site. The case of PINKESH DHIRAJ PATEL & ANR. VS. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ANR. IN CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 2879 OF 2022 which was passed by the division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE SUNIL B. SHUKRE & HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE M.M. SATHAYE. The petitioners challenged the charge-sheet filed against them, arguing that the offense of culpable homicide was not applicable in their situation.

FACTS:

The case revolves around a charge-sheet filed against the petitioners under Section 304 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The petitioners contended that they should not be charged with culpable homicide as defined by Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code. They argued that the allegations made in the First Information Report (FIR) did not demonstrate any intention to cause death or inflict bodily injury likely to cause death, which are essential elements for culpable homicide.

The petitioners’ defence focused on the absence of overt acts on their part that would meet the requirements for culpable homicide. They emphasized that the FIR did not establish any criminal intention or knowledge on their part. They referred to a previous legal precedent, the case of Shantibhai J. Vaghela and Anr. v. State of Gujarat, to support their argument.

The respondent-state, represented by the learned Additional Public Prosecutor (APP), countered the petitioners’ claims. They argued that the specific allegations against the petitioners indicated their negligence in providing proper safety measures at the construction site. The respondent’s counsel highlighted that the tragic death occurred due to the petitioners’ failure to install safety belts and leaving dangerously exposed vertical iron bars in the column. They contended that the act of negligence led to the unfortunate incident, and it would be a matter for trial to determine if there was any intention on the part of the accused to cause a fatal injury.

LAWS INVOLVED:

Section 304 of the IPC: Deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, punishing those who cause death without fulfilling the criteria for murder.

Section 34 of the IPC: Holds individuals jointly liable for a criminal act when committed in furtherance of a common intention.

Section 299 of the IPC: Defines culpable homicide, involving the intentional causing of death or bodily injury likely to cause death.

Section 227 of the CrPC: Empowers the Sessions Court to discharge the accused if there is insufficient ground for proceeding with the case, requiring recording of reasons for the decision.

JUDGMENT:

The court thoroughly analysed the arguments presented by both parties and referred to Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 227 stipulates that if, after considering the case record and the submissions of the accused and prosecution, the judge finds no sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused, they may be discharged.

The court acknowledged the difference between what constitutes a sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused in a sessions trial and what constitutes the offense itself. It emphasized that the possibility of the accused’s acquittal does not negate the existence of sufficient grounds for proceeding.

In its ruling, the court recognized two aspects of the case: an omission on the part of the petitioners and an overt act. While the omission did not attract the offense of culpable homicide, the court found that the petitioners’ act of leaving dangerously exposed vertical iron bars, which were being used during construction work, could be considered an overt act.

The court concluded that prima facie evidence of an overt act, coupled with the knowledge of the potential harm it could cause, provided sufficient grounds for proceeding further with the criminal trial against the petitioners. It clarified that the final determination of the petitioners’ guilt or innocence would be a matter for trial.

Additionally, the court dismissed the documents presented by the petitioners, which allegedly showed the Labour Commissioner’s adjudication on the incident. It clarified that compensation granted by the Labour Commissioner does not equate to a finding of accidental death without criminal intention or knowledge.

Considering the analysis and considerations, the court dismissed the petition and held that there were sufficient grounds for proceeding with the criminal trial against the petitioners.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW

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