13 Sep 2023 10:00 AM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has ruled that the recognition of a couple's choice to live together without solemnising marriage does not entitle married people to live with others during the subsistence of their marriage. The Division Bench of Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari and Justice B.V.L.N Chakravarti accordingly dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a married man to produce a woman whom...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has ruled that the recognition of a couple's choice to live together without solemnising marriage does not entitle married people to live with others during the subsistence of their marriage.
The Division Bench of Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari and Justice B.V.L.N Chakravarti accordingly dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a married man to produce a woman whom he had been living with, who was allegedly taken away by her father.
"One’s choice to live outside wedlock does not mean that the married persons are free to live in live-in relationship with others outside wedlock during subsistence of marriage. That would be transgressing valid legal framework. The right to live out of wedlock is to be understood, living without solemnizing marriage, if they are major. They are not bound to marry each other. But that does not mean living in live-in relationship with others outside wedlock, during continuance of marriage."
The narrative of the petitioner was that he was married, but divorce proceedings were pending between him and his spouse. He further stated that during the pendency of the proceedings he was living with the detenue, a major woman and that in July 2023, her father along with other family members came to the petitioner's house, abused him and took her away.
The petitioner contended that he filed police complaints but none were taken on record.
The Court observed that neither had the petitioner submitted any material to show that his divorce was underway nor had he produced material to support his claim that he and the detenue were in cohabitation. It added that the present writ seemed like a scheme to legitimise his illegal actions by getting a 'seal of approval' from the Court.
"Filing of the writ petition appears to us to be a device adopted to have a seal and signature of this Court on the illegal act of the petitioner, transgressing the valid legal framework of his marriage. There is no factual foundation supported with material, to inspire confidence that it is a case of violation of one’s fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, or of any illegal custody of 'A', by her father respondent No.5"
The Bench acknowledged the fundamental right to choose one's partner, recognised under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution, as well as the legality of live-in relationships under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. However, this recognition is primarily for protecting women from domestic violence, not for encouraging or violating the legal framework.
"Filing a Writ for Habeas Corpus seeking production of alleged detenue in Court and setting him or her free from the parental home in particular, and that too at the instance of a person, as the present petitioner, a married person seeking liberty of a girl, may be major, on the ground of the petitioner allegedly living in relationship with her, in our view, cannot be encouraged."
The Court further noted that although the petitioner had averred to having filed complaints which were not taken on record by the police, he did not show any further action on his part to compel the police to take the complaint on record.
"If the report was not received, the petitioner could have approached the Senior Superintendent of Police or/and could also have sent the complaint through registered post and he could also have approached the competent Court of law under Section 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C) of even under Section 200 Cr.P.C. But nothing has been brought on record, except bald allegation without any evidence."
The Court also noted that they are not oblivious to the rights of an individual to make independent choices. The Bench also noted that it is the duty of the Court to uphold the freedom of such an individual; however, the Court emphasized that such choices, should not transgress and valid legal framework.
As such, the case was dismissed.
Counsel for petitioner: V. V. L. N. Sarma
Counsel for respondent: Y. N. Vivekananda
Case Title: Devi Bulli Venkanna vs. State of Andhra Pradesh
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