The Kerala High Court Friday declined to separate a teenage live-in couple — 18-year-old boy and 19-year-old girl — saying that the court was bound to respect the “unfettered right of a major to have live-in relationship even though the same may not be palatable to the orthodox section of the society”.
The high court bench dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of the girl, from Kerala’s Alappuzha, seeking direction to the police to produce his daughter from the “illegal” custody of her live-in partner.
The girl’s father had contended that the boy was just 18, three years short of 21 years, and hence a child as defined under Section 2(a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
In the petition, he said there could be no valid marriage between his daughter and her lover, and a child born out of such a relationship would be called “illegitimate before the law”.
However, the high court observed that both teenagers were in a live-in relationship and were practically living as husband and wife, though not wedded legally. It said, both the teenagers had submitted before that court that they are “intensely in love with each other since school”.
Noting the girl was living with her friend “out of her own volition and she being a major has a right to live wherever she wants to or move as per her choice”, the court dismissed the father’s plea. “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that live-in relationship has become rampant in our society and such living partners cannot be separated by the issue of a write of habeas corpus provided they are major. The constitutional court is bound to respect the unfettered right of a major to have live-in relationship even though the same may not be palatable to the orthodox section of the society,” the court said.
The Supreme Court had recently held that an adult couple has a right to live together without marriage, while asserting that a 20-year-old Kerala woman, whose marriage had been annulled, could choose whom she wanted to live with.