DC debates the SC ruling on live-in relations

DC discusses the SC ruling on status of women and children in live-in relations.

‘Live-in not part of Indian culture’

C.V.L. Narsimha Rao, Family court advocate

The recent Supreme Court judgement is another blow for the Indian institution of marriage. As it is, men in the country are finding ways and means to escape their liability towards their wives and children and if another defence called the ‘live-in relationship’ is given to them, I think the burden will shift onto the woman partner again to maintain the relationship and keep it going strong.
Apart from maintenance (financial support), the woman needs to be legally enforced. If the couple has been in a live-in relationship for a considerable amount of time and they separate, the woman will come out of it empty handed. However, if she is married and files for a divorce legally, then she has a legal system to stand by her.
If such relationships are encouraged, where is the prospect for a man and woman to tie the knot? Marriage will, in fact, bind them for a lifetime and also legalise the relationship in every sense. Now, with the legalisation of the so called live-in, a man and a woman and the sanctity with which they could have been bound by marriage, is at stake.
In fact, according to the criminal procedure code, even illegitimate children are entitled to maintenance.
As it is, with globalisation and consumerism, joint families have become a rarity; sensitive relationships that existed have vanished. If the concept of live-in is accepted and allowed, then the safety of women is in great danger.
A national debate on this is essential. The concept of live-in is nothing but a relationship, with free sex and without any binding or responsibility. If this is accepted, only women will suffer to a great extent. But, with the current ‘portrayal of women’ by the media, if a woman gets into a live-in relationship, her image will be tagged as tainted and her dignity will be at stake.
If the concept of live-in is introduced, men can take women for granted. The concept of live-in is not suitable in the Indian scenario because as it is a woman has every right to walk away from the marriage by filing for a divorce if she wants to. There is no necessity to legalise it. It is just an escape route for men as they are not bound to explain. It is very much against Indian culture and every custom of Indian marriage and somehow makes no sense in this respect.
‘Choice must be backed by rights’
S. Vani, Advocate, Supreme Court
A live-in relationship is a matter of choice. Every person has a right to choose and live life on their terms. You can have a relationship with anyone you want and like. Morals and ethics take a back seat in such cases. It is not right or wrong, it is just the choice.
But, when it comes to rights, everything has to be within the four walls of the law. There should be legalisation of rights. Women or men should not have to depend on the mercy of the other partner. It cannot be contractual.
Though it is a very progressive move to tag a live-in relationship as neither a sin nor a crime, in a country like India, women tend to be on the receiving end in many cases.
Along with the concept, there needs to be an order to things and there should be protection of rights. Be it in a live-in relationship or a marriage, there have been many instances of women who have suffered abuse from their male partner.
We do have acts like the Domestic Violence Act that covers women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption. The interpretation that leads to the expression related to marriage is live-in.
Live-in falls under the category, ‘through a relationship in the nature of marriage,’ so we need to bring in stricter laws to protect women and ensure that they are not taken for granted.
The Domestic Violence Act is intended to give protection to women and it came into being after a lot of protests and demands by women activists. We need a similar move in this case as well.
Some religions like Islam say polygamy is permitted, but if a person is converting for this, then there is a rule that he has to divorce his current wife. We need measures like this to make sure that the welfare and well being of women doesn’t go for a toss.
Live-in relationship is prone to risks, definitely, but yet again it is a choice and this must be grounded with a few legal rights, especially for the protection of women’s rights. Along with live-in, we should ensure that a person’s right to live is taken care of and also the person’s ‘right to a protected legal order.’
( Source : dc )
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