Madhya Pradesh High Court

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In a petition seeking relief for protection and assistance against potential harm by 19 years old boy and girl who are wishing to reside together against their parents’ wishes, a single-judge bench comprising of Subodh Abhyankar, J., allowed the petition, granting protection to the petitioners based on their status as majors and their right to make decisions regarding their residence. However, the Court also cautioned about the challenges and responsibilities associated with such decisions, emphasising the need for discretion and awareness of societal implications.

In the instant matter, the petitioners, both aged 19 years, sought relief for protection and assistance against potential harm from respondents 4 to 6 and their associates. The petitioners were living together against their parents’ wishes and feared potential actions from petitioner 1’s parents. The petitioners cited Nandakumar v. State of Kerala, (2018) 16 SCC 602, where the Supreme Court recognized the right of individuals to live together even outside wedlock if they are majors. The State opposed the petition, citing the age of petitioner 2 (19 years) as below the marriageable age of 21, and argued against granting protection to avoid promoting promiscuity. The issue in consideration is whether the petitioners, being of age, are entitled to protection and security against potential violence or interference from external forces, particularly their parents, due to their decision to reside together against their parents’ wishes.

The Court referred to Nandakumar (Supra) where the Supreme Court held that “even if they were not competent to enter into wedlock (which position itself is disputed), they have right to live together even outside wedlock. It would not be out of place to mention that “live-in relationship” is now recognised by the legislature itself which has found its place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, emphasising the right of majors to live together even outside wedlock. Despite petitioner no. 2 being 19 years old and below the marriageable age of 21, the Court held that since he was a major, his decision to reside as per his will deserved protection.

The Court expressed concerns about young individuals making life choices early and highlighted the challenges such decisions might pose in terms of education, livelihood, and societal acceptance. The Court stated that “India is not a country where the State provides any allowance to the unemployed and the uneducated ones, thus, if you are not dependent on your parents, you have to earn your own and your partner’s livelihood and this would naturally obviate possibility of going to a school or a college, and if you get into this struggle of life at an early age by choice, not only your chances of enjoying the other opportunities of life are drastically affected but your acceptance in the society is also reduced, and it is far more difficult for a girl who can also become pregnant at an early age, leading to further complications in her life.” The Court also expressed concerns about the implications of such choices and advised caution in enforcing rights and making life decisions at a young age.

The Court allowed the petition and directed respondents to provide necessary protection to the petitioners. The Court instructed the petitioners’ counsel to inform the petitioners about the court’s concerns. The Court directed that the copies of the order be supplied to the Advocate General’s office for prompt communication with the concerned authorities for compliance. The Court also directed the SHO of the relevant police station to share their mobile number with the petitioners for emergency contact. All pending interlocutory applications were disposed of.

[Manisha Anjana v. State of M.P., 2024 SCC OnLine MP 1441, order dated 14-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Shri Apoorv Joshi, Counsel for the Petitioner

Shri Amay Bajaj, Govt. Advocate, Counsel for the Respondents

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