Rights of Women and Children in A Live-In Relationship
By Shagun Mahendroo
In addition to providing legal protection to live-in relationships, the Indian judiciary has provided additional protection to partnerships resulting from live-in relationships, demonstrating its role as the caretaker of its residents. In many cases, the woman partner's right to preserve and inherit property has been upheld by the courts. The rights of children born out of such live-in relationships have been protected by Indian courts.
Section 125 of the CrPC gives the right to maintenance:
Palimony is a term that is widely used to describe maintenance in live-in relationships. The right to maintenance is covered by Section 125 of the CrPC. in India. This clause, which was established to help 'destitute' wives, helpless minor children, and elderly parents is now applicable to the indigent partner of live-in partnerships.
A revision was made in response to the Malimath Committee on Criminal Justice Reforms' recommendation to amend Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and change the definition of "wife" therein. Women who were in a live-in relationship and were later abandoned by their spouse have the legal status of a wife, according to the current legal situation.
The Supreme Court overturned the prior decision in Chanmuniya v. Virendra Kushwah, upholding the ability of a woman in a live-in relationship to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC. The rationale for granting such a privilege to a woman in a live-in relationship is to ensure that a male does not take advantage of legal loopholes by enjoying the benefits of a de facto marriage while failing to fulfil the marriage's responsibilities.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court stated in Kamala v. Mohan Kumar that the term 'wife' should be given a purposive interpretation to further the ideals of social justice and defend the right to dignity of individuals inherent in the Constitution. Long cohabitation between the woman and the man resulted in the presumption of marriage, and the Court decided that the woman was entitled to support for herself and their children.
Thus, the judicial standing is that a woman in a live-in relationship enjoys a similar right to maintenance akin to legally wedded wives.
Women's Right to Inherit Property:
The Court confirmed a woman's ability to inherit property when her live-in boyfriend died in Dhannulal v. Ganeshram to settle a property dispute. Family members said in the court that their grandfather had been cohabiting with a woman for the previous 20 years. They also claimed that she was not eligible to inherit the land after their grandfather died because she was not married to him.
The Court disagreed, ruling that "where the man and woman lived together as husband and wife, the law will presume that they were living together in a lawful marriage."
Children Born Out of a Live-in Relationship's Legal Status:
For the first time in Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, children born out of live-in partnerships were granted legal validity. According to the Supreme Court, if a man and woman live together and cohabit for a long time, there is a presumption of marriage under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. As a result, the children born to them will be regarded genuine and entitled to a piece of the ancestral estate.
The Supreme Court in Bharatha Matha v. Vijeya Renganathan gave children born from live-in partnerships a share of their parents' property. The Court decided that children born to live-in relationships could not be considered illegitimate if the relationship lasted long enough. In a recent landmark decision, the Kerala High Court recognised a child born in a live-in relationship for adoption as a child born to a married couple.