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Live-in relationships may not be acceptable to all, but not illegal: Punjab & Haryana HC

The court granted protection to a couple in a live-in relationship, ruling that it is not an offence to live together without marrying

Sabrangindia 21 May 2021

Image Courtesy:in.news.yahoo.com

Over the past few days, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has been seized with several petitions filed by young runaway couples who fear reprisal from their families. In yet another significant ruling, Justice Jaishree Thakur has granted protection to a couple in a live-in relationship while holding that such relationships are not illegal in India.

The Single-judge Bench was hearing a plea filed by a 22-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man who moved in together till such time as they could solemnise their marriage, i.e., as and when the man attains the marriageable age of 21. They submitted before the court that both belonged to different castes, and that they approached the court for protection because they feared that there was a threat to their life as the relationship was not acceptable to the woman’s family.

The couple clarified that they did not file a plea seeking permission to marry or for approval of their relationship. They requested the court to issue direction to the woman’s family members to restrain themselves from interfering in their peaceful live-in relationship.

Court’s observations

Justice Thakur referred to some judicial precedents while noting that courts have provided protection to some runaway couples, even though they were not married and were in a live-in relationship, and in some cases where the marriage was invalid as one of the parties though a major, was not of appropriate age as per section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act (18 years for women, 21 years for men).

In this context, the High Court held that, “The concept of 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.”

Considering the facts of this case, Justice Jaishree added, “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. In case such a course is adopted and protection 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 the Rule of law.”

Justice Thakur refused to interfere or judge the couple’s personal decision as both of them are adults. The Court also said that one cannot also lose sight of honour killings which are prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in the 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”, Justice Thakur added.

She held 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 hindrance to their peaceful existence. The State at this juncture, must ensure their protection and their personal liberty.

Finally, the Court disposed of the petition with directions to the State 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, as SabrangIndia had previously reported, Justice Sudhir Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted protection to a live-in couple and noted that social acceptance of live-in couples is increasing. Justice Mittal also ruled that live-in relationships are not prohibited in law, nor does it amount to the commission of any offence.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Social acceptance of live-in couples is increasing: Punjab & Haryana HC grants protection
Live-in relationship is morally and socially unacceptable: Punjab & Haryana HC
Punjab and Haryana HC suggest safe houses for inter-caste couples

Live-in relationships may not be acceptable to all, but not illegal: Punjab & Haryana HC

The court granted protection to a couple in a live-in relationship, ruling that it is not an offence to live together without marrying

Image Courtesy:in.news.yahoo.com

Over the past few days, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has been seized with several petitions filed by young runaway couples who fear reprisal from their families. In yet another significant ruling, Justice Jaishree Thakur has granted protection to a couple in a live-in relationship while holding that such relationships are not illegal in India.

The Single-judge Bench was hearing a plea filed by a 22-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man who moved in together till such time as they could solemnise their marriage, i.e., as and when the man attains the marriageable age of 21. They submitted before the court that both belonged to different castes, and that they approached the court for protection because they feared that there was a threat to their life as the relationship was not acceptable to the woman’s family.

The couple clarified that they did not file a plea seeking permission to marry or for approval of their relationship. They requested the court to issue direction to the woman’s family members to restrain themselves from interfering in their peaceful live-in relationship.

Court’s observations

Justice Thakur referred to some judicial precedents while noting that courts have provided protection to some runaway couples, even though they were not married and were in a live-in relationship, and in some cases where the marriage was invalid as one of the parties though a major, was not of appropriate age as per section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act (18 years for women, 21 years for men).

In this context, the High Court held that, “The concept of 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.”

Considering the facts of this case, Justice Jaishree added, “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. In case such a course is adopted and protection 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 the Rule of law.”

Justice Thakur refused to interfere or judge the couple’s personal decision as both of them are adults. The Court also said that one cannot also lose sight of honour killings which are prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in the 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”, Justice Thakur added.

She held 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 hindrance to their peaceful existence. The State at this juncture, must ensure their protection and their personal liberty.

Finally, the Court disposed of the petition with directions to the State 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, as SabrangIndia had previously reported, Justice Sudhir Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted protection to a live-in couple and noted that social acceptance of live-in couples is increasing. Justice Mittal also ruled that live-in relationships are not prohibited in law, nor does it amount to the commission of any offence.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Social acceptance of live-in couples is increasing: Punjab & Haryana HC grants protection
Live-in relationship is morally and socially unacceptable: Punjab & Haryana HC
Punjab and Haryana HC suggest safe houses for inter-caste couples

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