Legal Article

The entitlement of ancestral property rights for a child born out of a live-in relationship

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article

Reading Time:

Published on: 30 Nov, 2023

The entitlement of ancestral property rights for a child born out of a live-in relationship. In the context of India, for instance, traditional inheritance laws, such as the Hindu Succession Act, did not explicitly address the rights of children born out of wedlock. However, subsequent legal amendments and court rulings have played a role in recognizing and safeguarding the inheritance rights of such children.

There has been a noticeable increase in the prevalence of live-in relationships. As this concept continues to evolve, it poses challenges for the judiciary to interpret laws concerning the rights and obligations of the partners involved and the children born from such unions. In Kattukandi Edathil Krishnan & Anr vs Kattukandi Edathil Valsan & Ors. the Honorable Supreme Court declared that even children born out of a live-in relationship possess coparcenary rights in ancestral property.

A live-in relationship refers to a connection between two mentally sound adults without entering into a legal or formal marriage. This type of relationship is commonly understood as cohabitation, which may or may not involve sexual relations. While the couple may make moral and personal commitments to each other, legal obligations are typically less binding in such relationships.

The initial instance in which the Supreme Court affirmed the legitimacy of children born from a live-in relationship was in the case of S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan. The Supreme Court articulated, “If a man and woman cohabit under the same roof and reside together for a certain duration, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as a couple, and the children born to them will not be considered illegitimate.”

In the case of Revanasiddappa v. Mallikarjun, the Special Bench of the Supreme Court of India, consisting of G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly, remarked that the birth of a child from a relationship, regardless of the connection between the parents, should be considered independently of the parents’ relationship. 

The court emphasized that a child born from such a relationship is innocent and entitled to all the rights and benefits accorded to children born from legal marriages. This principle aligns with the essence of Section 16(3) of the amended Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act marked a significant step toward equality by granting daughters, irrespective of their birth circumstances, equal rights in ancestral property. Additionally, Supreme Court judgments have reinforced the notion of equal inheritance rights for children born out of live-in relationships.