The Supreme Court of India on Monday opened up a debate on the matter and issued notice to the Attorney General of India asking for his assistance.
This debate arose in a case, where a man approached the Supreme Court asking it to quash criminal charges of rape levelled by a woman after he refused to marry her after living with her for a few years.
After six years of relationship, the girl filed a rape case, alleging that she had sexual relations with the man when they were living together on the consideration of marriage and not by free consent, and that as a result, the act amounted to rape.
While the court stayed criminal proceedings against the man, it asked whether, because “of the long cohabitation”, even if the “man is not held guilty” of rape, he could face a “civil liability” with the “relationship” being treated as a “de facto marriage”.
Advocate Yugandhara Pawar Jha, who is appearing for the man said that "the court is considering a civil liability on a man, in case of a long cohabitation where a man and woman have consensual sexual relationship and when such cohabitation does not conclude in a marriage or any criminal liability".
With changing social culture in metro cities across India this throws up a question Can a man who promises to marry a woman, has a live-in relationship with her and subsequently refuses to marry her, be asked to pay compensation to the woman.