May 21, 2021, 14:40
Punjab and Haryana high court
CHANDIGARH: Observing that the right to choose a partner of his/her choice is a constitutional right, the Punjab and Haryana high court has made it clear that an individual has the right to formalise the relationship with the partner through marriage or adopt non-formal approach of a livein relationship.
The high court also clarified that a couple living in a livein relationship has the same right of protection that a married couple has. On the contention that a live-in relationship is not legal and is frowned upon by society, the high court held that the “life and liberty of every individual is precious and must be protected irrespective of individual views.”
Justice Sudhir Mittal passed these orders while differing with the orders passed by HC’s two other benches last week which ruled that live-in relationships would disturb the “social fabric” of the society and were “morally or socially” unacceptable.
On May 11, Justice H S Madaan had held that “live-in-relationship is morally or socially not acceptable”.‘Live-ins same but not universally accepted’
Justice Madaan had dismissed a petition filed by a couple in a live-in relationship from Tarn Taran in Punjab.
Similarly, a single bench headed by Justice Anil Kshetarpal in its May 12 order had observed that if directions for the protection of a runaway couple in a “live-in relationship” are granted, the “social fabric of the society would get disturbed.” The judge has passed the order while dismissing a petition filed by a couple in a live-in relationship from Haryana’s Jind district.
In both the cases, the couples were adults and in live-in relationships and had approached the HC apprehending a threat from the respective families of both women against their relationships.
In contrast, Justice Mittal his May 18 order said the constitutional courts grant protection to couples, who have married against the wishes of their respective parents. “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? In my considered opinion, it would not. The couple fears for their safety from relatives in both situations and not from 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,” observed the judge in his order released on Thursday.
The matter had reached before the HC in the wake of a petition filed by a couple from Haryana’s Jind district who are adults and cohabiting in a live-in-relationship.
According to them, they decided to have such a relationship as they are sure of their feelings for each other. A great deal of thought has gone into the decision. But the girl’s family was against the relationship and was threatening to cause the couple physical harm. They sought directions from the HC to protect their life and liberty. The couple had also submitted a representation to the local superintendent of police regarding their protection but no action had been taken till now. Opposing the petition, the counsel representing the Haryana government had submitted that live-in-relationships are not legal and are frowned upon by society. Thus, no protection can be granted to the petitioners.
After hearing all the parties, Justice Mittal observed that such a relationship is not prohibited under the law nor does it amount to commission of any offence and “thus, in my considered view such persons are entitled to equal protection of laws as any other citizen of the country.” The HC also directed the concerned SP to ensure the couple is protected and no harm comes either to the lives or liberty of the petitioners.