JUSTICE PRAKASH Tatia, chairperson of the Rajasthan Human Rights Commission, has described live-in relationships as “social terrorism” and argued that such ties need regulation and safeguards for better protection of women. He also said that while the country has been debating triple talaq, live-in relationships were more detrimental to women’s rights.
Asked what he meant by “social terrorism”, Justice Tatia told The Indian Express, “The area where they (a couple) live-in…there is a sense of insecurity. A neighbour thinks, whether my daughter or son goes there (to the couple’s house). There is a sense of fear, which virtually creates terror…there may be fights. I am not saying the people who are fighting are right but it’s the reality.”
Justice Tatia was elevated as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in 2001. In September 2011, he took oath as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court. In 2015, he was appointed as the chairperson of the Rajasthan Human Rights Commission, a post that had been lying vacant since 2010. In February this year, he issued an order seeking popular opinion on live-in relationships, in order to generate a report and make recommendations to the government.
According to him, live-in relationships have a detrimental effect on the institutions of family, and that children born of such relationships are not accepted by society. “What is the effect on family…on one’s daughter of a marriageable age? On the son? If we ignore all this, we are individuals…we have no right to say we live in society or with dignity because we are not relevant for others and others are not relevant for us…they (couples living in) live outside society,” he said.
Justice Tatia, however, said that he was not making a case for live-in relationships to be outlawed, but to be regulated in order to ensure safeguards for women and children. “What is the status of their children? We have to bear in mind that society has yet to accept live-in relationships…such children are not accepted in schools or in society,” he said.
“What is the foundation of live-in? If they have clarity that we will live together and there is continuity and they will be faithful, then what’s wrong with marriage? They need not follow any religious practice…there is court marriage, too,” he said.
“But you don’t want to do all this…(leaving) doubts in everyone’s mind that one can leave anytime. If they marry, there is some social security…(but in live-in) there is every chance that after some time, one person leaves and it could ruin the future of the other, normally it’s the lady…there is no registration, no divorce,” he said.
“Today, we say triple talaq is atrocious to women. But in this case (live-in), you don’t even need to say a single word…the man just leaves the woman and moves in with another woman. A live-in relationship is a pact between two persons…if it has no implication for the family, society, or where they live, etc., then how can we say it’s a dignified life and how can it be a society?” he said.
Justice Tatia said that those who defend live-in relationships say it’s a decision made by two consenting adults and that similar problems arise in marriages, too, but added that the reasoning was flawed.
“The question is whether it’s a better alternative to marriage? What is the control of society…who will intervene when things go wrong?” he said. Asked about the order he issued in February on behalf of the rights commission, Justice Tatia said, “I invited public opinion, written and even anonymous… Because Supreme Court says live-in must be known to society, it cannot be hidden. I could be a hundred percent wrong…that is why I have sought views from the public.”