To Live-in, to Live on

Live in relationships may soon be legalized in Maharashtra and this has ignited a fresh round of debate across the nation. But according to me, the idea proposed by the Maharashtra Government is logical on grounds of practicality and rationality. The government has proposed an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) whereby a woman living with a man `for a reasonable amount of time’ would be given the same status as a wife, the right to inheritance, maintenance as well as alimony. Well, this is definitely contentious to all those hypocrites who reign strong in the Indian society. It is to be understood here that there are sufficient number of people in urban areas opting for live-in relationships and legalizing it ensures that no one involved is exploited. But it is intrinsic that the process and fashion of legalizing be such, that live-in relationships serve the purpose of providing an adequate groundwork for a life long commitment.

Well, before I elaborate on the utopian concept I just proposed – let us have a look into why people enter into a live-in relationship and how should the notion be legalized to reap the best results. The most basic cited reason for entering into a live-in relationship is to get more time to take a decision for a lifetime. Many people who don’t want the tag of “marriage” at a certain stage in life also second the idea of cohabiting, whereby they can feel free from any kind of social and personal bindings. However, people who condemn the idea of legalizing it say that it would just encourage the undecided and rash youngsters to continue play frivolously with significant issues like commitment. But my humble contention here is, if the idea is legalized with adequate constraints then it has equal chances of helping people take wiser decisions. In the first place, it will ensure that people indulge in profound brainwork before going in for cohabiting because of the legal consequences associated. Couples will also have the freedom to end the live-in relationship before a certain time if they don’t find each other compatible. It will also grant live-in relationships a more serious and responsible nature.

It’s very important that there should be clarity in laws about who can enter into such relationships or else it may contradict the Hindu Marriage Act which clearly screams that a person cannot have two wives simultaneously. A fixed specified eligibility criterion will help stabilize the cases wherein people who are already married enter into these relationships, which in a lot of cases causes the exploitation of previous partner’s rights. Associating legal constraints may help in bringing down the soaring toll of divorces in the country too.

The present intelligentsia unanimously and aggressively demands time and leeway to choose their partners which can be given to them by legalizing the concept of living together before marriage for specified time duration. All those so-called commitment phobic people who don’t want to undergo a ritual called marriage certainly deserve to have a lifelong socially respected relationship. Legalizing silently serves this vital purpose of giving the status of husband and wife to a couple living together for certain duration of time.

I feel that though live-in relationships might sound more like a western concept but it isn’t very tough to implement in our swiftly changing society too. But it should be legalized in a manner which is constructive for people entering into it and also benefits the society at large.

Srishti Gupta

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