May 22, 2021 9:00:33 am
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, while granting protection to a couple in a live-in relationship, has said that no one can hinder a couple’s peaceful existence “once an individual, who is a major, has chosen his/her partner”.
The plea for protection of life and liberty by a couple came before the bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur.
The petitioners, a woman, aged 22 years and 4 months, and a man (19 years 6 months old), through their counsel, Advocate Manpreet Kaur had submitted that the parents of the woman wanted her to marry a person of their choice and threatened her with dire consequences in case she did not do so. The woman thus left her paternal home and called upon other petitioner (man), whom she had known for the past one year. The petitioners decided to live together till such time as they could solemnise a marriage, on the petitioner (man) attaining the age of 21. It was also stated that the relationship would never be accepted by the family members of the woman as both belong to different castes. This was given as a reason for approaching High Court after not receiving any response from SP, Karnal, to whom a representation was submitted for protection.
The Haryana state counsel, on being issued notice by HC, submitted that the couple seeking protection are not married and according to their own pleadings are in a live-in relationship. It was also submitted that the coordinate benches have recently dismissed similar matters, where protection was sought by persons who are in live-in relationship.
The bench of Justice Thakur after hearing the matter citing different judgments over the protection granted to runaway couples by High Courts said that different High Courts too have allowed protection to runaway couples who are not married.
Justice Thakur said 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. Even under The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, a woman who is in a ‘domestic relationship’ has been provided protection, maintenance etc. It is interesting to note that the word ‘wife’ has not been used under the said Act. Thus, the female live-in partners and the children of live-in couples have been accorded adequate protection by Parliament.”
Pointing out on the honour killings prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in parts of states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Justice Thakur added, “Honour killing is a result of people marrying without their family’s acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion. 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 a hindrance to their peaceful existence. It is for the state at this juncture, to ensure their protection and their personal liberty. 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 and to uphold to the Rule of law.”
Justice Thakur further added in the order that “If the petitioners herein have not committed any offence, this court sees no reason as to why their prayer for grant of protection cannot be acceded to. Therefore, with due respect to the judgments rendered by the Coordinate Benches, who have denied protection to couples who are in live-in relationship, this court is unable to adopt the same view”.
The bench directed the SP Karnal, to decide the representation of the petitioner couple, and grant them protection if any threat to their life and liberty is perceived.
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