HC grants protection to live-in partners aged 20 and 17

Published on Jun 08, 2021 01:42 AM IST

The order came on the protection plea from a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old boy from Bathinda in Punjab

Punjab and Haryana high court , Chandigarh. (HT File)
Punjab and Haryana high court , Chandigarh. (HT File)
By, Chandigarh

The Punjab and Haryana high court granted protection to a live-in couple , despite one of them being a minor, observing that if a couple has decided to be together, it is not for the courts to judge them.

The order came on the protection plea from a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old boy from Bathinda in Punjab. The order, granting protection to a couple even though the girl was not of marriageable age was passed by the bench of justice Sant Parkash on June 3, and it comes in the backdrop of different benches of the high court giving divergent views on live-in relationships.

The court was informed that upon learning about the relationship between the girl and her partner, her parents wanted her to marry a person of their choice, following which the girl left her home to live with her partner. They have decided to live together till the time they are legally allowed to solemnise their marriage, they submitted.

“It would be a travesty of justice in case protection is denied to persons who have opted to reside together without the sanctity of marriage,” the bench said it would also be failing in its duty to provide people a right to their life and liberty if it did not intervene.

The bench also recorded that it can’t lose sight of honour killings which are prevalent in the region. “It is for the State at this juncture, to ensure their protection and their personal liberty,” the bench said adding that petitioners have not asked the court for permission to marry or to approve their relationship. Both of these would have put the court in a spot as the girl is a minor.

Different benches of the high court have given conflicting judgments on live-in relationships while hearing similar cases. On May 11, one of the benches observed that the “entire social fabric of the society will get disturbed” if a plea for protection from a live-in couple was accepted (both man and woman were majors in that case, but very young), while another bench termed live-in relationships “morally and socially not acceptable” while refusing protection. The decision on the second plea was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 4.

These judgments were followed by two other benches of the high court ruling the opposite. While a bench on May 18 held that a live-in relationship is not prohibited, another bench observed that such relationships may not be acceptable to all, but could not be termed illegal.

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