The bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice Sant Prakash ruled in the Case-Seema Kaur and another v. State of Punjab and others that it is not for the courts to judge the decision of couple who decided to reside together without the sanctity of marriage.
Facts of the case
A petition was filed by (girl aged 17 years and boy aged 20 yrs.) seeking protection for their life and liberty from the family members of the girl(respondent).
The parents of the girl wanted her to marry a boy of their choice after they came to know about her love affair with a boy (petitioner 2). Accordingly, Girk left her parental home and began living with the Boy and decided to live together till they both attain the age of marriage.
It was expressed before the Court that they have already approached the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bathinda looking for protection from the family of the girl, but there had been no response.
Assistant Advocate General, Punjab presented that couples asking for protection are not married and are in a live-in relationship and recently coordinate benches dismissed the same matter where couple asked for protection who are in live- in a relationship.
The Court noticed that the petitioners have approached the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India looking for protection of their life and freedom with a further prayer to be restrained from interfering in the peaceful live-in relationship of the petitioners.
The Court commented,
"The idea of a live-in relationship may not be acceptable to all, but it can't be said that such a relationship is an illegal one or that living together without the sanctity of marriage constitutes an offense.
Court also commented that,
When a person, who is a major, has chosen his/her partner, it isn't for some other individual, be it a relative, to object and cause an obstacle to their peaceful existence. It is for the State at this point, to ensure their protection and their liberty".
At last, the court said petitioners have not committed any offense then why their prayer was protection cannot be granted.
In related news, Supreme Court asked Punjab and Haryana court to Grant Protection to the Couple where earlier Punjab and Haryana High Court refused to give protection to the couple observing that the live-in-relationship, which is morally and socially not acceptable, and no protection order in the petition can be passed.
Conflicting rulings of Punjab & Haryana High Court
Recently, Punjab and Haryana High Court have reaffirmed that in protection petitions, questions the validity of the marriage can't be a ground for denial of protection of the couple's life and freedom.
A Single Bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri has stated,
"The scope of the current petition is only in regards to the protection of life and liberty of the petitioners and, therefore, the validity of the marriage can't be a ground for denial of such protection."
A week ago, Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that a live-in relationship may not be acceptable to all, yet it can't be said that such a relationship is an illegal one or that living together without the sanctity of marriage establishes an offense.
The Bench of Justice Jaishree Thakur noticed that in a matter relating to a live-in-relationship couple, who are both major and chosen to enter in into such a relationship and approached the Court looking for protection of their life and freedom as against the close relatives the Girl.
In related news, on Tuesday (May 18,2021) the Punjab and Haryana High Court decided that an individual has the right to formalize the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-in relationship.
The Bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal noticed that in a matter relating to a live-in-relationship couple, who are both major and chosen to go into such a relationship as they are sure of their feelings for each other.
This important observation from the Punjab and Haryana High Court came days after the High Court refused to grant protection to a live-in couple who allegedly confronted threats from the girl's family since their elopement while taking note of that "if such protection as claimed is granted, the whole social fabric of the society would get disturbed.'"
The Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal, in its request, noted,
"Petitioner no.1 (Girl) is barely 18 years old whereas petitioner no.2 (Boy) is 21 years old. They claim to be residing together in a live-in relationship and claim protection of their life and liberty from the relatives of petitioner no.1 (Girl)."