John Kennedy once said “Change is the law of life.” Transitions in the lifestyle of people are all right until and unless it does not impose any harm in the upliftment of the society.
Live-in relationships and nuptial agreements are such traits of western culture that, though prevailing in India gradually, are regarded as immoral and unacceptable by most of the people simultaneously. What is the reason behind these contrasting opinions? Let’s find out.
Live in relationship means when a couple mutually agree to live together in a household. In a country like India, marriage is deemed as a sacred bond and living together before marriage is a sin. This type of relation, as viewed by the elder generation, is devoid of commitment, trust and loyalty. Either of the parties can easily walk out and if, in case, there is a baby born out of such relation, its upbringing might be affected. This is the reason why it is not favored.
What has the judiciary opined regarding this matter?
Live-in relationship has been considered legal and within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution (Right to Life and Liberty) in the cases S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal and Gurwinder Singh & Anr. v. The State of Punjab & Ors.
Besides, a child born out of such relation will be considered legitimate was held in Tulsa v. Durghatiya and Revanasiddappa v. Mallikarjun.
Apart from what the judiciary held, there must be a reason as to why a couple opt for a live-in. It has its own perks.
● Less responsibility
● Less financial burden
● Freedom from forced commitments
● A way to know your partner better
● A companion to rely upon during emotional trauma
According to a survey, the respondents cited the reasons for divorce out of which 20% stated the following as the most common reasons:
● Lack of communication
● Different interests
● Less compatibility
● Lack of commitment
● Financial issues
It can be seen that live in relationship overcomes all these problems. It is a better option rather than to be in a forced or weak marital relationship.
Furthermore, it is not necessary that adverse situations are faced in every live in relation. It depends on the couple how they tackle it.
Legal provisions/ legislation in support of live in relationship
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes within its ambit right to choose and right to privacy. How a person wants to live, with whom and in what manner is a personal choice and no one can interfere in it.
Moreover, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides right to maintenance to women in a living relation with her partner if the relation comes within the ambit of “domestic relationship”.
Legal Validity of Nuptial Agreement in India
A nuptial agreement denotes a marital agreement. It can either be pre-nuptial or post- nuptial. Countries like the UK, U.S.A., France, Italy, etc. consider nuptial agreements as legally valid. However, in India, the condition is different. Marriage is regarded as a pure bond and not an agreement. Furthermore, section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 considered such agreements as void Therefore, it is not enforceable. However, it can help in determining how much property is to be divided and, in whose favor (Krishna Aiyar v. Balammal).
Whether nuptial agreements should be enforceable or not?
Though not enforceable at the present scenario, nuptial agreements are beneficiary. Like a life insurance secures a person during contingencies, similarly, nuptial agreements also act as a protection in case of separation or death of either spouse.
These agreements help in preventing conflicts, maintaining the children, reducing long court procedures and much more.
Even if it is a part of western culture but helps to overcome the shortcomings that either of the party faces or may face in future. In one of the cases,the court viewed that with the change in the modern society, laws need to be changed. To grant proper justice to everyone is the ultimate aim for which laws are formed and without changes, it is not possible.
The judiciary plays a very significant role in interpreting the laws of a country. Where there is the necessity to alter some provisions, it plays its part incredibly. To grant proper justice to everyone is the ultimate aim for which laws are formed and without adapting to the changes, it is not possible.
Speaking about live-in relationships, it has already been legalized and is favorable if the parties think so. In a similar way, nuptial agreements should also be enforceable. Everything has its own pros and cons. Looking towards the positive side, there are more advantages than the disadvantages which makes it an upper hand and leaves no reason as to why they are favorable and should not be legalized.
In cases where the provisions go against the public policy, the courts are there to put limitations and interpret it in a manner favorable to the culture of the country.
The main reason why these are considered immoral is the mentality of the people. The older generation do not want to accept the western culture. Talking about it, India adopted the concept of individualism, setting up fast-food units, cinemas, etc. and, at the present time, the majority of the people have accepted the changes and are accustomed to it. Slowly but gradually, people will accept these traits and things will change for the better in the near future.
This article is written by Himanshi of Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies and School of Law.