Law & Judiciary

    Live-in relationship an imported philosophy, against expectations of Indian tenets: Chhattisgarh High Court

    The Hawk
    May8/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    The Chhattisgarh High Court asserts that live-in relationships contradict traditional Indian values, impacting marriage norms. The judgment highlights the complex legal and cultural challenges of custody disputes in interfaith unions and non-traditional relationships in India.

    Live-In Relationship

    Bilaspur: Live-in relationship is an “imported philosophy” and against the “expectations of Indian tenets”, the Chhattisgarh High Court has observed, holding that the institution of marriage no longer controls the people as it did in the past.

    The division bench of Justices Goutam Bhaduri and Sanjay S Agrawal made the observation while dismissing an appeal of a man seeking custody of a child born from his live-in relationship with a 36-year-old woman.

    The HC said that “live-in relationship which is followed in certain sect of the society still continues as a stigma in the Indian culture as it is an imported philosophy contrary to the general expectations of Indian tenets”.

    The order was passed on April 30 and a copy was made available recently.

    In his plea, Abdul Hameed Siddiqui (43) of Dantewada district said that he was in a live-in relationship with a woman from a different faith and she gave birth to a child.

    He moved the HC, located in the state’s Bilaspur district, after a family court in Dantewada in December last year rejected his plea for the child’s custody, he said.

    As per the HC’s order, Siddiqui in his petition said he was in a live-in relationship with the woman for three years before marrying her in 2021 without conversion.

    As per Siddiqui’s petition, the order said, a child was born out of their relationship on August 31, 2021. On August 10, 2023, he found the mother and child missing. That year, he filed a habeas corpus petition seeking that the woman be produced before the HC.

    The woman had told the HC that she was living with her parents as per her own wish. Later, Siddiqui again moved the HC after the Dantewada family court did not give him the child's custody.

    The respondent (the woman) was his second wife, while Siddiqui had three children from his first wife, as per the HC order.

    In the HC, Siddiqui’s counsel said the two had married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, as it was an interfaith union. Under the Mahomedan Law, the counsel claimed, Siddiqui was allowed to perform a second marriage.

    Calling the marriage between Siddiqui and the woman valid, the counsel said his client was entitled to the child’s custody as he was the natural guardian. He prayed that the family court’s order be set aside.

    The woman’s lawyer contended that since she did not convert, the claim of a valid second marriage and to bring it under the ambit of the Act of 1954 “when the first wife is living” is not permissible.

    In such a situation, Siddiqui cannot claim to be a legal guardian of the child born out of a live-in relationship, argued the woman’s lawyer.

    Dismissing Siddiqui’s plea, the HC said it was not inclined to stay the family court’s decision.

    The HC said that “the provisions of personal law cannot be invoked before any court of law until and unless the same is pleaded and proved as custom”.

    “…The close inspection of society shows that the institution of marriage no longer controls the people as it did in the past due to cultural influence of the Western Countries and this significant shifts and apathy towards matrimonial duties has probably given rise to the concept of live-in relationship,” the court said.

    However, it is crucial to understand and protect the women in such relationships, as they are most often the complainant and victim of violence by the inmate partners of live-in relationships, held the court.

    “It is very easy for the married man to walk out of the live-in relationship and in such case the courts cannot shut their eyes to the vulnerable condition of the survivor of such a distressful live-in relationship and children born out of such relationship,” it added.