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Live-In Relationships May Not Be Acceptable To All But Living Together Without Marrying Doesn't Constitute An Offence: P&H High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
21 May 2021 4:39 AM GMT
Live-In Relationships May Not Be Acceptable To All But Living Together Without Marrying Doesnt Constitute An Offence: P&H High Court
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"It would be a travesty of justice in case protection is denied to persons who have opted to reside together without the sanctity of marriage, and such persons have to face dire consequences at the hands of persons from whom protection is sought." : P&H High Court

In yet another significant ruling, the Punjab & Haryana High Court on Tuesday (May 18) 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...

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In yet another significant ruling, the Punjab & Haryana High Court on Tuesday (May 18) 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.

Significantly, the Bench observed.

"It would be a travesty of justice in case protection is denied to persons who have opted to reside together without the sanctity of marriage, and such persons have to face dire consequences at the hands of persons from whom protection is sought."

Brief facts of the Case

The Girl (petitioner number 1) aged about 22 years decided to live with one Anil (petitioner No. 2) aged about 19 years after the parents of the Girl started forcing her to marry a person of their choice. They decided to live together till such time as they could solemnise a marriage, i.e. on petitioner No. 2 attaining the age of 21.

It is also stated by the petitioners that their relationship would never be accepted by the private respondents, as both belong to different castes, thus, the petitioners approached the SP, Karnal seeking protection at the hands of the private respondents, but there has been no response.

Further, fearing a threat to their life, as the relationship was not acceptable to the parents and family members of the Girl, the instant criminal writ petition had been preferred.

AAG Haryana submitted that the couple seeking protection are not married and according to their own pleadings are in a live-in relationship. Further, he submitted that the Coordinate Benches have recently dismissed similar matters, where protection was sought by persons who are in a live-in relationship.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court observed that the petitioners did not approach the court either seeking permission to marry or for approval of their relationship but their limited prayer was for grant of protection to them.

The Court also noted that the High Court in the past had allowed protection to such runaway couples, even though they were not married and were in a live-in relationship, and in cases where the marriage was invalid.

Further, noting that Article 21 as enshrined in the Constitution of India provides for its citizen to a right to life and personal liberty, the Court observed that,

"Once an individual, who is a major, has chosen his/her partner, it is not for any other person, be it a family member, to object and cause a hindrance to their peaceful existence."

Also, stressing that the Court has the duty to grant protection to such couple, the Court said that in case, protection is denied, the courts would also be failing in their duty to provide its citizens a right to their life and liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and to uphold to the Rule of law.

The Court also said that one cannot also lose sight of honour killings which are prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in parts of States of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

"Honour killing is a result of people marrying without their family's acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion," added the Court

Importantly, the Court observed,

"If the petitioners herein have not committed any offence, this court sees no reason as to why their prayer for grant of protection cannot be acceded to. Therefore, with due respect to the judgments rendered by the Coordinate Benches, who have denied protection to couples who are in live in relationship, this court is unable to adopt the same view."

Thus, the Court disposed of the petition with directions to respondent No.2 to decide the representation of the petitioners within a period of one week and grant them protection, if any threat to their life and liberty is perceived.

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.

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