The Punjab and Haryana High Court granted protection to a couple, who are in a live-in relationship, and reminded the state that it is for the State at this juncture, to ensure the couple’s protection and their personal liberty. (Seema Kaur and another vs State of Punjab and others)
“It would be a travesty of justice in case protection is denied to the persons who have opted to reside together without the sanctity of marriage and such persons have to face dire consequences at the hands of persons from whom protection is sought,” it said.
Justice Sant Prakash held, “The petitioners herein have taken a decision to reside together without the sanctity of marriage and it is not for the courts to judge them on their decision.”
The petition has been filed by the couple, seeking protection of their life and liberty at the hands of their family and further prayed that they be restrained from interfering in the peaceful live-in relationship. The petitioner is of the age of 17 years, who was forced to marry by her family as they came to know about her love affair with the 2nd petitioner who belongs to a different caste and is 20. In order to live together, they left their home and started living together till the time they can solemnize their marriage. After repeated threats of life, the petitioners went to Senior Superintendent of Police, Bathinda seeking protection, but there has been no response.
Recently, this HC had dismissed similar matters where protection was sought by persons in live-in relationships.
Punjab Assistant Advocate General Bhupender Beniwal submitted that the couple seeking protection are not married and according to their own pleadings are in a live-in relationship. He would submit that the Coordinate Benches have recently dismissed similar matters, where protection was sought by persons who are in a live-in relationship.
“The concept of a live-in relationship may not be acceptable to all, but it cannot be said that such a relationship is an illegal one or that living together without the sanctity of marriage constitutes an offence.”
The petitioner contended that they have not approached the court for either seeking permission to marry or for approval of their relationship, but for grant of protection of their life.
The Court also observed,“At this stage, one cannot also lose sight of honour killings which are prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in parts of States of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Honor killing is a result of people marrying without their family’s acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion. Once an individual, who is a major, has chosen his/her partner, it is not for any other person, be it a family member, to object and cause a hindrance to their peaceful existence.”
The Supreme Court judgment in the case S. Khushboo v Kanniammal (2010) 5 SCC 600 was being referred by this court, which states that live-in relationship is permissible and the act of two adults living together cannot be considered illegal or unlawful, while further holding that the issue of morality and criminality are not co-extensive.
Further, the court clarifies that “If the petitioners herein have not committed any offense, this court sees no reason as to why their prayer for grant of protection cannot be acceded to. Therefore, with due respect to the judgments rendered by the Coordinate Benches, who have denied protection to couples who are in a live-in relationship, this court is unable to adopt the same view.”