Is Marriage A Need In Modern India?


Initially in this world, Every human being has some of the basic necessities such as food-water, Shelter and clothing for survival purpose and for the betterment of life other needs such as {psychological needs, safety, love need etc}can be recognized at different levels of life. After the Needs of survival, psychological and love needs are considered to be of great significance. There is a Belief that upliftment of human being is possible only by achieving most of his necessities and for Completing his desire for love, marriage is the most important aspect[i]. In India marriage is Recognised as a sacrament. Every religion has its own ways and rituals for marriage. This universal Institution of Marriage in every religion is considered to be the most important duty of all human being. But as time changes there is a significant paradigm shift in the universal institution of marriage and as marriage involves the psychological concept of emotions there is a probability that the emotions of the parties entering into a marriage may change after a certain period of time and they may explore to other modes for fulfilling their desire of love. The primary focus of this article is to examine the alternatives of marriage, their positive and negative side too.


Marriage is the sacred bond between the male and female which unites not only two individuals but their families as well. It is one of the universal social institutions as well as it is the nucleus of any civilised society and of family. Marriage as an institution is present everywhere from the Vedic period only although the forms, functions and purposes of marriage differ from one society to another. In any civilised society family is the most notable unit whereas marriage is the basic structure of it. Family and marriage are two social institutions which are interlinked with each other as they both share biological foundation. Both the institutions are permanent elements of our social system and have been in existence since immemorial time. As more importance is given to marriage in Indian context life without marriage is unthinkable and those who remain unmarried suffer from the social stigma attached to them. Although in contemporary Indian society the importance of marriage for the fulfilment of one’s love desire has decreased it is still an important social institution with respect to the family. During the Vedic period only arranged marriage was recognised but in today’s world, the bride and groom can choose their partners according to their wish. Various alternatives to marriage have come up such as Live-in relation and Adoption.

Historical perspective of Marriage

The ancient human society was a peregrine society. There was maybe solely a herd-instinct sort married relationship before the dawn of civilization. As the years passed by the peregrine kith {kin, masses, and persons} evolved into an agricultural society and it was absolutely wanted to ascertain the paternity of youngsters. As far as the sexual relationship remained unfettered it absolutely was maternity alone, which might be identified. Determination of paternity is not possible. It is logical to mention that at some stage of human development the need arose for demarcating possession and proprietorship of fabric belongings as a natural consequence of human behaviour and therefore the human male was confiscated with the concept of knowing his youngsters. This was not doable if the sexual practice continued to be the rule. Determination of paternity of children is possible only if there is an exclusive union of a man and one woman in a sexual relationship[ii]. Thus, It seems, in man’s quest to grasp the paternity of youngsters lie in the seeds of the establishment of a wedding[iii]. Thus the construct of marriage- a form of man-woman relationship as a responsible matched unit of society-evolved a singular human family system. Its essential elements were intercourse, reproduction of kids and habitation with mutual obligations and responsibilities to the care of offspring. The normal Hindu family was an establishment, a joint family system, characterised by solid togetherness of fogeys, grandparents, sons and daughters, their spouses, even uncles and aunts. There was a definite family identity with every member knowing his or her roots. The establishment of a wedding provides respectability to girls, enhances their personal happiness and welfare, and provides family support and companionship. In ancient times there was a prevalence of polygamy and polyandry because the civilization method went ahead, marriage came to be recognised as a spiritual, holy and indissoluble sacramental bond and better half was thought of to be a respectable member within the home.

Is Marriage A Need In Modern India?

The legal perspective of Marriage

Being the cornerstone of the Nation, Indian constitution under  Article 21 states “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. And right to marry is an important ingredient of one’s life and thus it can be supported by art.21 of Indian constitution[iv]. Not only this right enshrined in Indian constitution but also it is recognised under article 23 of “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” which states:

1. “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.

2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.

3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

4. States parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, the provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children[v].

”Also the ICCPR General Comment No 19: Article 23 (The Family) Protection of the Family, the right to Marriage and Equality of the Spouse paragraph 8 says “At the time of wedlock, the couples have to be compelled to equal responsibilities and rights among the family. This equality expands to any kind of matters arising from their relationship, such as choice of residence, education of the children and administration of assets. Such equality continues to be applicable to arrangements relating to legal separation or dissolution of the marriage”[vi].

Alternatives to marriage in Modern India

The alternatives to marriage are:

1.The Alternative of ‘live-in relationship’

Marriage is the duty of every person, particularly in Indian society. It changes the lifestyle of the person. with the marriage come various responsible duties such as taking care of better-half, maintaining her, etc. Its basic ingredients were intercourse, reproduction of children and mutually living together with responsibilities and obligations to take care of children’s. To avoid this obligation and to enjoy the benefits which come along with marriage such as cohabiting together, parenting etc, the concept of live-in relation has come into the contemporary world. The concept of live-in relation provides life to the couple which is free from any type of commitment and responsibilities which is a core element of marriage. However, the concept of live-in relationship prevails from the beginning in the Indian society, the sole difference is that previously people were hesitant in declaring their live-in status due to the fear of the society as in earlier times people were narrow-minded but now with the changing time people have become more open-minded and this kind of relationship is widely accepted by the society.

Is Marriage A Need In Modern India?

What is ‘live-in relationship’?

A system within which associate single couple lives along beneath an equivalent roof for a long duration relationship that resembles a wedding is understood as a live-in relationship. Thus it’s the sort of arrangement within which a man and woman can live together under the same roof without getting married. In metropolitan cities, this kind of relationship has become an alternate option to marriage within which the freedom of individual person is considered to be the top priority amongst them out hand no-one desires to urge entangled into the standard responsibilities of married life. This form of inhabitation isn’t recognized by “Hindu Marriage Act” or any other statutory law of the nation. The universal institution of marriage promotes adjustment whereas the seed of “live-in relationship” lies in individual freedom.

The legal status of “live-in” relationship in India

As there is no clarity in the concept of live-in relationship the status of unmarried couples in a live-in relationship is also not clear. In India, there is an absence of law which governs live-in relationships. Also, there is no legislation to state the duties and rights of the parties who are engaged in a live-in relationship and the status of a child born to couples living in a live-in relationship. Due to the absence of law which governs the live-in relationship, the courts have come forward to give clarity to the concept of “live-in”. The courts have taken the view that wherever a person and a lady live along as husband and wife for an extended term, then the law will presume that they were lawfully married unless evidenced contrary.

Is Marriage A Need In Modern India?

 The initial case in which the Apex court of India firstly recognized the “live-in” relationship as a valid marriage is that of “Badri Prasad Vs Dy. Director Of Consolidation and ors[vii] in which the Hon’ble Court gave legal validity to the fifty-year live-in relationship of an unmarried couple. The Allahabad High Court once more recognized the concept of live-in relationship within the case of “Payal Sharma vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan and ors[viii] wherein it was held that unmarried couple living together as per their wish isn’t illegal. The court further stated that for the society it may be immoral but living together without marriage is not illegal. Later Supreme Court of India in the case of “S. Khushboo vs. Kanniammal and Anr[ix]” held that living together is a right to life. Live-in relations could be immoral within the eyes of the conservative Indian society however it’s not “illegal” within the eyes of the law. During this case, all the allegations against Khushboo, the south Indian actress who supported pre-matrimonial sex and live in a relationship were dropped. The Court held that how it cannot be legal if two adults live together, in their words “living together cannot be illegal”.

2.The Alternative of Adoption

The alternative for marriage is the adoption as it satisfies the need for a human being of becoming parents or parent without getting married. Adoption is defined as a relationship between parent and child established through a social and legal procedure rather than the birth process. It is a method by which a child of one couple becomes the child of another couple or of an individual. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act of 2006) states that where the adoption was defined as the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from the biological parents and becomes the legitimate child of the adoptive parents with all rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to the relationship.

Is Marriage A Need In Modern India?


Marriage is considered to be the universal institution in India. It is an obligation for every Hindu to perform this ceremony of purification. The concept of marriage is recognised as a duty in the religious book of Hindu’s as some of the vital religious ceremonies cannot be performed by an unmarried man. As tremendous changes happened in Indian society not only the marriage has gone through various changes but also values attached to the marriage have changed continuously. So the current scenario is that individuals are now selecting their better-half according to their own needs whereas due to some marital problems many are not getting married. As marriage is a bond between two individuals it is possible that there may be some problems occur after some time and the couples want to end their marriage for this purpose the provision of divorce is advantageous. Thus, the belief that Hindu marriage is indissoluble has come to an end. And now couples are choosing alternatives of marriage such as live-in relationship and adoption for fulfilling their desire of love without getting married.

[i] “Maslow’s need of hierarchy theory”  in  Maslow, A (1954). Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper.
[ii]Evolution of marriage as a social institution” available online at
[iii]P. Diwan and Peeyushi Diwan, Modern Hindu Law Codified and Uncodified, 62 (Allahabad Law Agency, Faridabad, 16th Ed. 2005)
[iv]“Marriage in India” by Shivani Gupta, HNLU Raipur. Available online at
[v]“International covenant on civil and political rights”. Available online at
[vi] Available at
[vii] 1978 AIR 1557, 1979 SCR (1) 1
[viii] AIR 2001 All. 254
[ix] 2010 (5) SCC 600