[Live-in Relation in India] Is Live-in Relation a Valid Marriage?

[Live-in relation in India] Is live-in relation a valid marriage ?

Despite the fact that the marriage is not performed according to any personal Law or under Special Marriage Act the conduct of partners towards each other is sufficient to draw a strong presumption of sustainability of a valid marriage. As in many cases, Hon’ble Supreme Court has ruled that when an unmarried couple lives together as husband and wife it consist of a valid marriage in the eyes of Law.

According to sec 114 of the Indian Evidence Actwhich states that the Court may presume the existence of certain facts.

“The Court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of particular cases.”

As in the case of S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. suruthayan alias Andali Padayachi and others1994 AIR 133, 1994 SCC(1) 460, the Apex Court have held that if a man and woman cohabitating under the same room for several years,  then there will be presumption of marriage under sec 114 Indian Evidence Act.

So, if a man and woman are living as husband and wife for a long time, then it shall be presumed that they are married.

Also, the right to marry is a component of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which says “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.” This right has also been recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. Art 16 of the same states that-

1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality, or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

  • Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

The Fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants to all its citizens the “right to life and personal liberty” which means that one is free to live the way one wants. A live-in relationship may be immoral in the eyes of the conservative Indian society but it is not “illegal” in the eyes of law.

 The first case in which the Supreme Court of India first recognized the live-in relationship as a valid marriage was that of Badri Prasad vs. Dy. Director of ConsolidationAIR 1978 SC 1557, in which the Court gave legitimacy to a 50-year live-in relationship of a couple.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 recognizes “relationship in the nature of

marriage” and guard female partners from domestic violence. Such partners can claim monetary and other reliefs under the Act.

According to sec 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act, 2005

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“domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family;

The Supreme Court in the case of D.Velusamy v D.Patchaiammal AIR 2011 SC 479held that a relationship in the nature of marriage under the 2005 Act must also fulfil the following criteria:

  • The couple must hold themselves out to society as being of the same kind to marriage.
  • They must be of legal age to marry.
  • They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.
  • They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time, and in addition, the parties must have lived together in a shared household as defined in Section 2(s) of the Act. Merely spending weekends together or a one-night stand would not make it a domestic relationship.

It also ruled that if a man has a keep that he maintains financially and uses mainly for a sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage.

The Supreme Court consistently ruled in favor of couples living together as husband and wife, giving the woman the right of a wife[1].

A landmark judgment was passed, in the case of Dhannulal and ors. Vs. Ganeshram Civil Appeal No. 3410 of 2007, a bench of justices MY Eqbal and Amitava Roy noted that “It is well settled that the law presumes in favor of marriage and against concubine, when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long time. However, the presumption can be rebutted by leading unimpeachable evidence. A heavy burden lies on a party who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin.”So, there is no need of any further argument it’s like a cover proof, Hon’ble SC has passed its landmark judgment dated 5 Apr, 2015 and no further contradicting judgment of any superior or constitutional bench has been passed till date. So, according to Art 141 of the Constitution of India, the law declared by Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.

[Live-in relation in India] Is live-in relation a valid marriage?

Also Read: The Right Of Any Major Individual To Marry The Person Of His/Her Choice Irrespective Of Caste Or Religion Is A Fundamental Right


[1] Payal Katara vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketanand others, 2001(3) AWC 1778

S. Khushboo vs Kanniammal&Anr, JT 2010 (4) SC 478 Dinohamy vs WL Blahamanvi, JT 2010 (4) SC 478

Madan Mohan Singh & Ors vs. Rajni Kant &Anr, AIR 2010 SC 631 Lata Singh v. State of U.P,Writ petition (Crl.) 208 of 2004

Patel and Other, 2006 (8) SCC 726

Tulsa v. Durghatiya, 2008(4) SCC 520

Varsha Kapoor vs UOI & Ors, 146 (2008) DLT 445 (DB)

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