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Can Court Grant Protection To Two Persons Living Together Without Examining Their Marital Status?: P&H High Court Refers Matter To Larger Bench

Sparsh Upadhyay
24 May 2021 9:51 AM GMT
Can Court Grant Protection To Two Persons Living Together Without Examining Their Marital Status?: P&H High Court Refers Matter To Larger Bench
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In a significant move, the Punjab & Haryana High Court last week referred to a larger bench, the question as to whether the Court is required to grant protection to two persons living together, without examining their marital status and the other circumstances of that case? The Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal also added, If the answer to the above is in the negative, what are...

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In a significant move, the Punjab & Haryana High Court last week referred to a larger bench, the question as to whether the Court is required to grant protection to two persons living together, without examining their marital status and the other circumstances of that case?

The Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal also added, If the answer to the above is in the negative, what are the circumstances in which the Court can deny them protection?

The Court referred the matter to a larger bench on the view of the fact that various benches of the Court, of co-ordinate strength, have formed different opinions on the matter concerned, which, according to the court, cannot be easily reconciled.

The matter before the Court

The Court was hearing a protection plea filed by petitioners seeking appropriate directions from the Court providing them protection from the private respondents.

Petitioner No. 1 was stated to be married and it is further stated that relations between Petitioner No. 1 and his wife were strained, but a divorce had not been obtained by them.

It was further stated that Petitioner No. 1 had now run away with Petitioner No. 2 and they wished to reside together, but their relationship was not acceptable to the private respondents.

Court's observations

The Court found it appropriate to request the Chief Justice to constitute a Larger Bench to decide the following questions: -

  1. Where two persons living together seek the protection of their life and liberty by filing an appropriate petition, whether the Court is required to grant them protection, per se, without examining their marital status and the other circumstances of that case?
  2. If the answer to the above is in the negative, what are the circumstances in which the Court can deny them protection?

Importantly, the Court used the expression "person" in the first question framed, instead of using the expression "adult", in view of the fact that the High Court had, in certain matters before, granted protection where both the Petitioners were not adults.

Conflicting rulings of Punjab & Haryana High Court

Even in relation to live-in relationships between two adults, the Punjab & Haryana High Court had, considering the facts of some cases, declined protection to the Petitioners, however, a view contrary to this has also been taken by the Court.

Recently, Punjab and Haryana High Court has reaffirmed that in protection petitions, questions surrounding the validity of the marriage cannot be a ground for denial of protection of the couple's life and liberty.

A Single Bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri has held,

"The scope of the present petition is only regarding the protection of life and liberty of the petitioners and, therefore, the validity of the marriage cannot be a ground for denial of such protection."

Last week, Punjab & Haryana High Court observed that a live-in relationship may not be acceptable to all, but it cannot be said that such a relationship is an illegal one or that living together without the sanctity of marriage constitutes an offence.

The Bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur observed thus in a matter pertaining to a live-in-relationship couple, who are both major and decided to enter into such a relationship and approached the Court seeking protection of their life and liberty as against the immediate family members the Girl.

In related news, the Punjab & Haryana High Court on Tuesday (May 18) ruled that an individual has the right to formalize the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-in relationship.

The Bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal observed thus in a matter pertaining to a live-in-relationship couple, who are both major and decided to enter into such a relationship as they are sure of their feelings for each other.

This significant observation from the Punjab & Haryana High Court came days after the High Court refused to grant protection to a live-in couple who allegedly faced threats from the girl's family since their elopement while noting that "if such protection as claimed is granted, the entire social fabric of the society would get disturbed.'"

The Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal, in its order, noted,

"Petitioner no.1 (Girl) is barely 18 years old whereas petitioner no.2 (Boy) is 21 years old. They claim to be residing together in a live-in relationship and claim protection of their life and liberty from the relatives of petitioner no.1 (Girl)."

Further, in yet another order denying protection to a live-in couple, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week refused protection to a live-in couple who approached the Court after they faced opposition to their relationship.

Justice HS Madaan, in a terse order, charged the couple with approaching the Court so as to obtain a seal of approval on their "morally and socially not acceptable" relationship.

"As a matter of fact, the petitioners in the garb of filing the present petition are seeking seal of approval on their live-in-relationship, which is morally and socially not acceptable and no protection order in the petition can be passed.

Case title - Yash Pal And Another Vs State Of Haryana And Others [CRWP-4660-2021 (O&M)]

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