P&H HC | After two orders calling Live-in-relationships unacceptable, HC holds live-in couples are entitled to equal protection of laws as any other citizen

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Sudhir Mittal, J., granted protection to a live-in couple who were under threat of physical harm by their own family. The Bench said,

The Constitutional Courts grant protection to couples who have married against the wishes of their respective parents…an identical situation exist where the couple has entered into a live-in-relationship. The only difference is that the relationship is not universally accepted. Would that make any difference? In my considered opinion, it would not.

In the instant petition, both the petitioners were major and were in a live-in-relationship. The petitioners submitted that a great deal of thought had gone into the decision and they had decided to enter into such a relationship as they were sure of their feelings for each other. However, the family of petitioner 2 was against the relationship and was threatening to cause physical harm to the petitioners, pursuant to which a representation had been submitted before respondent 2, but no action had been taken thereupon. Hence, having left with no other option, they had approached the Court for protection of their life and liberty.

On the other hand, the stand taken by the State was that live-in-relationships are not legal and are frowned upon by society. Thus, no protection could be granted to the petitioners.

The Bench opined that the Right to life and liberty as enshrined in the Constitution is a basic feature of the Constitution and according to the said right individual has right to full development of his/her potential in accordance with his/her wish and for such purpose, he/she is entitled to choose a partner of his/her choice. Holding that the individual also has right to formalize relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-inrelationship, the Bench opined, 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 development of this concept. Slowly, the concept has percolated into small towns and villages. This shows that social acceptance for live-in-relationships is on the increase. The Bench further expressed,

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. The Bench added, the Constitutional Courts grant protection to couples, who have married against the wishes of their respective parents, the same situation exists where the couple has entered into a live-in-relationship, hence the fact that the relationship is not universally accepted would not make any difference. As,

The couple fears for their safety from relatives in both situations and not from the society. They are thus, entitled to the same relief.

Hence, holding that no citizen can be permitted to take law in his own hands in a country governed by Rule of Law, the Bench directed respondent 2 to consider the representation of the petitioners and provide appropriate protection. The respondent 2 was further directed to ensure no harm is caused either to the lives or liberty of the petitioners.

[Pardeep Singh v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 921, decided on 18-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Counsel for the Petitioners: Adv. Mandeep Singh and Adv. Devender Arya

Counsel for the State: Addl. AG Sanjay Mittal

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