In a significant ruling where it allowed the protection plea of a couple in a live-in relationship, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that the “individual 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 court directed the Haryana Police to ensure that neither the lives or liberty of the couple is harmed as it stated “in law, such a relationship is not prohibited nor does it amount to commission of any offence” and “such persons are entitled to equal protection of laws as any other citizen of the country”.
The order, passed by the bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal, comes just a few days after two different single benches of the Punjab and Haryana High Court turned down two similar petitions of live-in-relationship couples while observing “if such protection as claimed is granted, the entire social fabric of the society would get disturbed”.
It dismissed another similar matter by holding that, “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”.
Meanwhile, a similar matter of a live-in-relationship couple, seeking protection, came up for hearing before the bench of Justice Mittal, wherein the couple through their counsel, Advocate Mandeep Singh, said they are both major and have decided to enter into a live-in relationship. “They are sure of their feelings for each other. A great deal of thought has gone into the decision. However, the family of petitioner number 2 (woman) is against the relationship and are threatening to cause physical harm. A representation dated May 9, 2021, has also been submitted before the Haryana Police, but no action has been taken till date. Left with no other option, they have filed the present petition,” said the advocate.
On being issued notice, the Haryana 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, it added.
Justice Mittal, after hearing the matter and the contention of the state counsel, held, “The Constitution of India is the Supreme Law of the land. 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 formalize the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-inrelationship.”
Commenting on the concept of live-in-relationships, Justice Mittal said that its social acceptance is also increasing. “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 formalization of a relationship through marriage was not necessary for complete fulfillment. Education played a great role in the development of this concept. Slowly, the concept has percolated into small towns and villages also as is evident from this 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,” he said.