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"Cannot Be Morally Accepted In Society": P&H HC Declines Protection To Couples In "Contractual Live-In-Relationship"Which is Not A "Marital Relationship"

Sparsh Upadhyay
12 March 2021 6:24 AM GMT
Cannot Be Morally Accepted In Society: P&H HC Declines Protection To Couples In Contractual Live-In-RelationshipWhich is Not A Marital Relationship
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The Punjab & Haryana High Court on Wednesday (10th March) registered its disapproval of 'new concept of contractual Live-In-Relation' backed by a deed, wherein parties state that their live-in-relationship is not 'Marital Relationship'. The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan opined that "especially stating (in the deed) that it is not a 'Marital Relationship' is nothing but...

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The Punjab & Haryana High Court on Wednesday (10th March) registered its disapproval of 'new concept of contractual Live-In-Relation' backed by a deed, wherein parties state that their live-in-relationship is not 'Marital Relationship'.

The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan opined that "especially stating (in the deed) that it is not a 'Marital Relationship' is nothing but the misuse of the process of law as it cannot be morally accepted in society."

The matter before the Court

The Court was hearing a plea seeking issuance of direction to official respondents to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners at the hands of the private respondents.

The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that Petitioner No.1 Moyana Khatun (aged 18 years) and Petitioner No.2 Labh Singh (aged about 19 years) executed a deed of Live-In-Relationship dated 04th March 2021 and certain terms and conditions have been settled in the deed of live-in-relationship by way of mutual consent.

The said deed specifically stated that both the parties have agreed that their live-in-relationship is not a 'Marital Relationship' and further, the parties will fully cooperate with each other without any dispute and issue and will not claim anything against each other.

The said deed also stated that if any of the parties backs out from the aforesaid deed, the other party will have a right to approach a competent Court of law for the implementation of the same and that, in the end, on attaining marriageable age the parties agreed to solemnize marriage.

State's submission

The Counsel for the states opposed the prayer of the petitioners on the ground that such deed of live-in-relationship is impermissible in law when the parties have not attained the age of performing marriage under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

It was further submitted that Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 prohibits marriage of a girl below 18 years and boy below 21 years of age.

It was also contended that Section 26 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 provides that an agreement in restraint of marriage is a void agreement and therefore, it cannot be enforced as per Section 14 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.

It was thus, submitted that the Live-In-Relationship agreement set up by petitioners being void agreement cannot be accepted.

Court's order

After hearing counsels for the parties, the Court did not find any merit in the petition.

Significantly, the Court distinguished this case with other cases relied upon by the Petitioners on the ground that in such petitions, which were related to live-in-relationship couples and were disposed of with a direction to the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned to look into the grievance of the petitioners, the parties were of marriageable age.

Lastly, the Court said,

"…the terms and conditions of live-in-relationship relied upon by the petitioners referred to above, especially stating that it is not a 'Marital Relationship' is nothing but the misuse of the process of law as it cannot be morally accepted in society."

Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.

Related news

Significantly, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year remarked that a court hearing a Protection Petition filed by runaway couples need not preach on morality or human behavior.

A bench of Justice Rajiv Narayan Raina had made it clear that in such cases, the court should not present its personal views regarding morality, and must ensure that the couple's rights under Article 21 are protected.

"It is not for this Court in a protection petition to engage itself in social mores, norms and human behaviour or introduce personal ideas on morality."

Even in January 2020, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that parents cannot compel a child to live a life on their terms.

The Bench of Justice Alka Sarin had further reiterated that merely because the boy is not of marriageable age (though major) the right of petitioners to live-together cannot be denied.

Further, noting that "Parents cannot compel a child to live a life on their terms and that every adult individual has a right to live his or her life as he or she deems fit", the High Court upheld a couple's right to be in a live-in relationship.

Case title - Moyna Khatun and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP-2421-2021]

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