“Occupation of hotel room by an unmarried couple, will not attract a criminal offence”

Unmarried couples sharing hotel room doesn’t attract criminal offence

Madras High Court: M.S. Ramesh, J., while allowing the present petition calling out the action of the respondent with respect to the sealing of petitioner’s hotel to be illegal as it did not follow the principles of natural justice.

Petitioner has stated that a search was conducted from the office of Tahsildar and during the search certain liquor bottles were found inside one of the rooms occupied by the guests and in one room two adults, male and female who were not married with each other were staying. Further, it was stated that the team without any order sealed the petitioner’s premises.

Petitioner’s counsel K. Chandrasekaran stated that no justification on the part of the respondents was put forward with respect to no opportunity being given to the petitioner in regard to putting forth their objections and sealing of the premises without any order being served to the petitioner, which is in violation of the principles of natural justice.

Additional Public Prosecutor, C.Iyyapparaj, informed the Inspector of Police that the petitioner’s premises had not obtained Form ‘D’ and without details of the guests in the booking registers, permitted illegal activities by the guests.

It has also been stated that various print media and social media reports were produced before the Court to ascertain the fact that the petitioner permitted unmarried couples to stay in the hotel rooms, which has been termed to be immoral.

A specific question was put to the respondents as to what could be the illegality in permitting the unmarried couples to stay in the hotel rooms?

High Court stated that,

“there are no laws or regulations forbearing unmarried persons of opposite sex to occupy hotel rooms, as guests. While live-in-relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence, terming the occupation of hotel room by an unmarried couple, will not attract a criminal offence.”

Court added to its conclusion that, the extreme step of sealing the premises on the ground that an unmarried couple were occupying the premises, is totally illegal in the absence of any law prohibiting the same.

In response to the contention of the respondents that certain liquor bottles were found in the room occupied by the guests and since the premises does not possess the license to serve or sell liquor inside, the action of sealing was initiated;

Court stated that Tamil Nadu Liquor (Possession for Personal Consumption) Rules, 1996, permits any individual person to possess various types of liquor in specified quantities. Any person can possess 4.5 Litres of IMFS; 4.5 Litres for Foreign liquor; 7.8 Litres of Beer; 9 Litres of Wine, at a given point of time, within the State. Thus, the consumption of liquor by the guests cannot be termed as illegal.

High Court noting the above held that sealing of the premises was in total violation of the principles of natural justice. Hence the Court would be justified in invoking its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

In view of the above, the respondent has been directed to de-seal the petitioner’s premises. [Mypreferred Transformation and Hospitality (P) Ltd. v. District Collector, Coimbatore; 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 9835; decided on 26-11-2019]

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