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Live-in relationship neither a crime nor a sin: Apex court

The apex court said unfortunately, there is no express statutory provision to regulate live-in relationships upon termination as these relationships are not in the nature of marriage and not recognised in law. In the landmark judgement, a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan framed guidelines for bringing live-in relationship within the expression 'relationship in the nature of marriage' for protection of women from Domestic Violence Act.

'Parliament has to ponder over these issues, bring in proper legislation or make a proper amendment of the Act, so that women and the children, born out of such kinds of relationships be protected, though those types of relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage,' the bench said.

'Live-in or marriage like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin though socially unacceptable in this country. The decision to marry or not to marry or to have a heterosexual relationship is intensely personal,' the bench said, adding that various countries have started recognising such relationship. The apex court said a legislation is required as it is the woman who invariably suffer because of breakdown of such relationship.

'We cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that inequities do exist in such relationships and on breaking down such relationship, the woman invariably is the sufferer,' it said, noting 'Live-in relationship is a relationship which has not been socially accepted in India, unlike many other countries'. The bench, however, said that legislature cannot promote pre-marital sex and people may express their opinion, for and against.

'Such relationship, it may be noted, may endure for a long time and can result pattern of dependency and vulnerability, and increasing number of such relationships, calls for adequate and effective protection, especially to the woman and children born out of that live-in-relationship. Legislature, of course, cannot promote pre-marital sex, though, at times, such relationships are intensively personal and people may express their opinion, for and against,' it said.
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