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Author: Arjun Maheshwari, I year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University

What are Live- relationships in India, and what are their Provisions?

It is described as “An arrangement or cohabitation in which two people are involved in a sexual and romantic relationship and are living as partners (Husband & Wife ) in the same house or place and showing society that they are couples without marriagefor a long time.”In this, the couples show that they depend on each other but do not want to carry out the marriage rituals.

In this kind of relationship,couples do not feelthe need to carry out marriage rituals. Still, when the connectiongetsbroken,either one of them ( especially women ) or both have to suffer a lot because they do not have the rights that a married couple has.

What are its Provisions and rulings

1. According to the Report of 2003 related to Reforms of the Criminal Justice System (spearheaded by Dr Justice V.S. Malimath), which gave two recommendations –

  • The evidence regarding a man and woman living together for a sufficiently long period should be enough to draw the presumption that the marriage was performed according to the customary rites and ceremonies of the parties,

  • Thus, it is proposed that the word wife in section 125 of CrPC should be altered to include a woman living with the man like his wife for a reasonably protracted period.

The second point that the report raises is to amend the definition of wife under section 125 of CrPC and to include women who live as a wife with someone.

2. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, section 2(f) Definition travels outside the confines of a marital relationship and even includes live-inrelationshipslike marriage

3. According to the Law of Presumption of Marriage (a judicial pronouncement), the law will presume in favour of marriage where a couple has been living like a husband and wife for a very long time.

4. According to the American Court ruling in Marvin v. Marvin which SC of Californiacoined a new expression of Palimony which is a combination of ‘pal’ and ‘alimony’.

5. According to the SC ruling in Gokal Chand v. Parvin Kumari, 1952, the court held that continuous cohabitation of men and women as husband and wife might raise the presumption of marriage; thehusband will have the right to demolish that presumption.

6. In CHANMUNIYA V. VIRENDRA KUMAR SINGH KUSHWAHA & ANR, 2011 in which SC said three things

  • Presumption of marriage in favour of the wife.

  • The standard of Proof cannot be strict.

Where is the Conflict in law?

Conflicts in law arise from the following cases of SC ;

1. In Yamunabhai Anantrao Adhav v. Anantrao Shivram Adhav and another, 1988, SC held that the expression wife in section 125 of CrPC should be interpreted to mean only a legally wedded wife.

2. In Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit &Anr, 1999 which SC gave the opposite ruling from the 1988 case that First, the standard of Proof of marriage in a Section 125 proceeding is not as strict as is required in a trial for an offence under Section 494 of IPC and Second where evidenceis there which shows that the couples are living as husband and wife then plea for maintenance cannot be ignored.

3. Next, in the case of Chanmuniya v. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha & ANR, 2011, the womanlivedas a wife with a man. However,after a few years, the men refuseto accept the woman as his wife. The matter went to the Trial Court,whichsaid the womanwas the husband’s wifeandentitled to maintenance. The case then went to the HC, which reversed the order of the Trial Court and gave the reasons that the requirements of the Hindu Marriage Act were not met.The matter then went to the SC, whichreferred to the 2011 judgment, but due to the contradictory decision of the SC in the past, the bench directedthe case to the three-judge court, which is pending till now.

4. In the case of Indra Sarma vs V.K.V.Sarma, 2013, SC said thatmarried couples are assigspecifictain responsibilities andthatlife in a relationship is like a mutual understanding and can end at anytime. Thereforeall who live in a relationship are notmarried and thus give the following guidelines:

  • Reasonable period to continue the relationship

  • Shared household

  • Showing society that they are husband and wife


Hence, there is a long gap in judicial opinions. Still, there is a presumption in favour of marriage, and the person who had taken advantage of de facto marriage cannot walk freely from the social obligation.

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