New Delhi, May 20 (ILNS): The Punjab & Haryana High Court has ruled that an individual has the right to formalise a relationship with his or her partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-in relationship.
This order was passed by Justice Sudhir Mittal on Tuesday, while hearing a petition, filed in the main, by Pardeep Singh.
Earlier, Justice Anil Kshetarpal of the same Court had refused to grant protection to a live-in couple, who allegedly faced threats from the girl’s family since their elopement. The Judge had noted then, “If such protection as claimed is granted, the entire social fabric of the society would get disturbed.”
Also, in another case, Justice H S Madaan had refused intervention under similar circumstances.
The petition that landed before the Court of Justice Mittal said that the petitioners are in a live-in-relationship, they are both major and have decided to enter into such a relationship as they are sure of their feelings for each other.
However, their families are against the relationship and threatening to cause physical harm, it was alleged. A representation of May 9 had also been submitted by the petitioners, but no action was taken by the state, so the couple had no option, but to file the petition.
The state counsel submitted that live-in-relationships are not legal and are frowned upon by society. Thus, no protection can be granted to the petitioners.
The Court reminded the state counsel that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It said, “The right to life and liberty is enshrined therein and is treated as a basic feature. The said right includes the right of an individual to full development of his/her potential in accordance with his/her choice and wish and for such purpose, he/she is entitled to choose a partner of his/her choice.
“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. 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.
“Education played a great role in development of this concept. Slowly, the concept has percolated into small towns and villages also, as is evident from the petition. This shows that social acceptance for live-in relationships is on the increase.
“In law, such a relationship is not prohibited, 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 law postulates that the life and liberty of every individual is precious and must be protected, irrespective of individual views,” the Court observed.
The Bench said, “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 exits, where the couple has entered into a live-in relationship.
“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 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 the Rule of Law.
“The Petition is accordingly, disposed of with direction to respondents to consider the representation dated May 9, 2021 and to provide appropriate protection, if found necessary. It shall be ensured that no harm comes either to the lives or liberty of the petitioners,” the Court ordered.
Earlier in the same court, Justice Kshetarpal had ordered (in a similar petition): “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).” The Judge had dismissed the petition, saying that a live-in-relationship is morally and socially unacceptable.
In another case, petitioners Gulza Kumari and Gurwinder Singh had stated that presently, they are residing together, though they intend to get married shortly. At that, Justice H S Madaan had observed in his May 11 order: “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. The petition stands dismissed accordingly.” ILNS\AP\SJ\RJ