Supreme Court re-iterates that Live-in Relationship is not a Crime
Today, the Supreme Court of India observed that ‘Live-in Relationships’ does not amount to a crime as the society has accepted it be normal and an acceptable norm. According to a bench comprising Justices Dipak Mishra and Prafulla C Pant, "Being in live-in relationship is not a crime and with changing time it has become a norm accepted by society". Back in September 2013, the Supreme Court had similarly observed that Live-in relationship is neither a crime nor a sin. Further, the Court had even asked the Parliament to formulate a legal framework to recognise such relationships and to give protection to women in such relationship and children born out of it.
The Bench made this observation while hearing a batch of petitions including the one filed by Mr. Subramanian Swamy challenging the constitutional validity of defamation laws under the Indian Penal Code, 1861. During the course of the hearing, the Bench raised a question whether exposing a public personality’s Live-in relationship can be termed as defamation.
Appearing for the Central Government, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi argued that the personal life of a public figure cannot be looked into by the public as it would in no manner serve public interest. According to the AG, "Then how is public concerned and what business they have to make adverse comments about it”. He stated that such personal issues cannot and should not be made part of the public debate.
The AG vehemently argued that decriminalising defamation would lead to ‘anarchy’ and stated that freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution does not mean that any one can say anything about others.
It was in Indira Sarma vs V.K.V.Sarma Supreme Court held that though socially unacceptable in this country, a live-in or marriage-like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin and it is an extremely personal decision to marry or not to marry, or to have a heterosexual relationship and therefore the court felt that there was a need for a legislation as it was the woman who invariably suffers because of the breakdown of such a relationship. The apex court bench also gave examples of various countries that had started recognizing such relationships. It said the Parliament should give this issue a serious consideration and bring in proper legislation or make a proper amendment to the Act, so that women and the children born out of such kinds of relationships can be protected, though such a relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage.