Social acceptance of live-in couples is increasing: Punjab & Haryana HC grants protection

This progressive order comes days after different judges of the same HC have been deeming live-in relationships as morally unacceptable


The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted protection to a couple in a live-in relationship against the adult woman’s parents wishes who have been allegedly threatening to physically harm them.

Justice Sudhir Mittal held that Right to Life and Liberty includes the right to choose a partner of his/her choice and that the “individual also has the right to formalise the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-in relationship.”

While noting that “social acceptance for live-in-relationships is on the increase”, Justice Mittal said that the concept of live-in-relationships has crept into our society from western nations and initially, found acceptance in the metropolitan cities, probably because, individuals felt that formalisation of a relationship through marriage was not necessary for complete fulfilment.

Contrary to what the state counsel argued, Justice Mittal ruled that live-in relationships are not prohibited in law nor does it amount to the commission of any offence. “The law postulates that the life and liberty of every individual is precious and must be protected irrespective of individual views”, read the order.

In order to further examine the issue, the court drew parallels between married couples and couples in a live-in relationship who choose their respective partners against the wishes of their parents. He observed that if married couples are entitled to protection, live-in couples are entitled to the same relief.  

Justice Sudhir Mittal asked,  “The Constitutional Courts grant protection to couples, who have married against the wishes of their respective parents. They seek protection of life and liberty from their parents and family members, who disapprove of the alliance. An identical situation exists where the couple has entered into a live-in-relationship. The only difference is that the relationship is not universally accepted. Would that make any difference?”

He continued, “In my considered opinion, it would not. The couple fears for their safety from relatives in both situations and not from the society. They are thus entitled to the same relief. No citizen can be permitted to take law in his own hands in a country governed by Rule of Law.”

Accordingly, the court directed the police to grant protection to the couple and “ensure that no harm comes either to the lives or liberty of the petitioners”.

This significant order comes days after the same High Court’s Single-judge Bench of Justice HS Madaan refused to grant protection to a couple living together, calling their relationship morally and socially unacceptable. Another Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal had denied protection to a couple where the couple was 18 to 21 years old stating that if such protection is granted the entire social fabric of the society would get disturbed.

Similarly in March, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan dismissed the plea of two live-in partners seeking protection after holding that their live-in relationship contract clearly mentioned that it was not a marital relationship which was a “misuse of process of law as it cannot be morally accepted in society”.

The order authored by Justice Sudhir Mittal may be read here: 


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