Legally Valid or What ?

It might be a matter of debate whether Lord Krishna and Radha lived together or not, but live-in relationships find ample support in Hindu mythology. To mention one, Bhima lived-in with Hidimba and had a son with her by the name Ghatotkach, who later fought for the Pandavas and was always considered a legitimate son of Bhima.Does it mean that they fall in the grey area between legal and illegal? In other words, is it so that the Indian society and its political alter ego – the Indian State – do not approve of pre-marital sex and live-ins but still tolerate their existence? Much of the hue and cry against live-ins is the byproduct of a misplaced sense of culture and decency. After all, marriages are nothing but socially endorsed live-in arrangements.

9 replies
Siddhartha Shankar Mishra
June 7, 2017


  1. Very interesting! ‘Marriages are nothing but socially endorsed live-in arrangements’. So interesting! about 50 years back abortion was a crime, today it is not. Ten years back pre-marital sex was looked down upon, now the society is changing. So you are so right!

  2. If an unmarried couple is living together as husband and wife, then they would be presumed to be legally married and the woman would be eligible to inherit the property after death of her partner, the Supreme Court has ruled in 2015 . A bench of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice Amitava Roy said continuous cohabitation of a couple would raise the presumption of valid marriage and it would be for the opposite party to prove that they were not legally married.”It is well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage, 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,” the bench said. Not only did the Supreme Court refuse to term live-ins illegal, but also clearly and unambiguously endorsed living together as part of ‘right to life’. The Bench said, “What is the offence and under which section? Living together is a right to life.”The Supreme Court talked of the similar kind of presumption of legitimacy when it ruled that in case of long span of cohabitation, marriage has to be presumed and the party challenging the marriage has to prove its case and not the other way round.

  3. Mythologically speaking… both your example are untrue. Rfhika was much older and infact married to some one. Theirs was not even a romantic love. Bhima and hidamba were very much married and all the rotuals were performed according to Hidambs. Involving religion/mythology where the facts are not checked is so not a wise thing.

  4. Its years of conditioning. we think marriage is the only right and decent way to go about living together. And yet there are many examples where people lived in, in older times quite happily ,in our own country, as you have cited. Marriage may have been a way to institutionalise a ‘claim’ over another person, because you love them and want them exclusively; and you want the nod of all of society. But more than its approval and much more than legality, its the love that matters. if you are married and not in love any more, we all know the fallout. So the very sanction becomes a blackmail of sorts, and the purpose of being exclusive for each other flies right out the window. its a case of possessiveness at its nightmarish worst then.
    There can be any combo:
    married and happy
    married and unhappy
    live in happy
    live in unhappy.
    and while the happy are simply that-happy. its the unhappy ones who would have to deal with, whether they can cancel the arrangement now or not? but this is actually a deep subject: do only legally wedded ladies deserve alimony for example?
    and so on.

  5. The Indian state has actually begun to accept live in relationships, case in point bing the Anti-Domestic Violence Act which also applies to live in couples. As for the society, one needs to understand the importance of community in human existence. Especially for something like marriage, which ensure the continuation of human race. Change is happening, and like most social change, is gradual.

  6. Live-in relations were termed as Gandharva Vivaah. There are tribes in North East where marriage is solemnised only after elopement and a live-in period. In Mahabharata the Shakuntala story is a famous example. Dushyant forgot her and she faced the heat from the society. If coming together is exciting and drifting apart is painful. Since personalities are dynamic, what we like today becomes a burden tomorrow. Marriage is a social contract that ensures that mood swings do not affect the children. The changed partner doesn’t ignore the need of time, energy and resources required to raise children born out of the union. Marriage is a live-in with responsibility.

  7. I am happy, fancyfree and footloose..:)..overqualified for marriage..! Besides, i do not approve of mating in captivity..!! So, livein, lovein, wantin everyday, or dontbein..:):)

  8. Live in is not my cup of tea..but I would like to point out that our society is oozing of hypocrisy at all levels. They don’t want to accept something the indicates love without long term commitment that is “legal”.

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