The government does not propose to legalise live-in relationships in the country, but women in such relationships are protected against domestic violence under the law.
This emerged in an answer by Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj in response to a question by a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha on whether the Maharashtra government, which had approved a proposal to legalise live-in relationships in October, had sent it to the Centre for its consent.
“No such proposal has been received from any state government,” Bhardwaj said. “If it is acceptable to society in the future, then the government can make laws. Laws are made keeping in view societal trends and interests of the country.”
The minister also added: “If the Maharashtra government has sent such a proposal, then it seems that it is quite advanced in its thinking as live-in relations are not prevalent in India.”
The Maharashtra cabinet had on October 8 approved a proposal that suggested changing the definition of ‘wife’ to include any woman who has been living with a man as his wife for a reasonably long period.
Bhardwaj’s reply prompted CPI(M) MP Brinda Karat to say, “This is a matter of an adult consensual relationship. Why is this question being asked?” The law minister asked her to listen and not interrupt.
“I am one of the crusaders for the liberty of women,” he said. “I want to enforce the law vigorously. In a live-in relationship, a lady is covered under the domestic violence act and this is adequate.” The Domestic Violence (Prohibition) Act was enacted in 2005.