The Madras High Court was recently in the matter with them was constrained to highlight that there is nothing legally "immoral" in permitting unmarried couples to stay in hotel rooms. In view of these observations, the Court proceeded to allow the petition challenging the sealing by the assignee of the lease and directed that the property be de-sealed within two days.
As a crux of the matter it was held by the court that there is nothing immoral or illegal to permit unmarried couples to occupy hotel rooms. It is completely valid to provide a room and them being occupants in a hotel.
Justice MS Ramesh pointed out that these were the applications applied and conclusions were drawn:
Apart from the fact that there was no law prohibiting the stay of unmarried couples in leased premises and hotels, the Court also pointed out that the process of sealing the service apartment without notice for the cited lacunae of lacking a 'Form D' document, was severe, in violation of natural justice and liable to be quashed.
"... the entire episode of sealing the premises is in total violation of the principles of natural justice. It is not in dispute that the petitioner was not put on notice prior to the sealing of the premises. No explanation was called for from the petitioner with regard to the contemplated action of sealing the premises. Particularly, in the background of the present case that the alleged immoral activities in the club may not be an offence, it would have been just and proper for the respondents called for explanation, before taking any coercive steps against the petitioner....
... Assuming that such lacuna were discovered by the authorities, these can only termed as infirmities, which required to be addressed by calling for explanation from the petitioner and thereafter take further course of action, thereby adhering to the principles of natural justice. Since the entire action of sealing the petitioner’s hotel without following the principles of natural justice is illegal, this Court would justified in invoking its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
An order passed last month by Justice MS Ramesh points out,
"When a specific question was put to the respondents as to what could be the illegality in permitting unmarried couples to stay in the hotel rooms, the respondents had no answer to the same. Apparently, there are no laws or regulations forbearing unmarried persons of the opposite sex to occupy hotel rooms, as guests. While live-in-relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence, terming the occupation of a hotel room by an unmarried couple, will not attract a criminal offence. While that being so, the extreme step of sealing the premises on the ground that an unmarried couple were occupying the premises, is totally illegal in the absence of any law prohibiting the same."
In this particular case, the Tamil Nadu police had sealed a service apartment in Coimbatore after a surprise raid conducted in June, this year. The raid was said to have been conducted over complaints from neighbours and news in print and social media that unmarried couples were being permitted to stay in hotel rooms, which was termed as "immoral."
The rooms were subsequently sealed off, with the police citing the absence of a 'Form D' certificate and the proprietors of the premises allowing illegal activities in the rooms as reasons. The objectionable activities alleged including the serving of liquor and allowing unmarried guests to occupy the rooms.
Justice Ramesh, however, noted that there was no indication that the liquor was served to the guests. While this was the case, he observed that in Tamil Nadu, individuals were allowed to carry liquor in permissible quantities.
"... the petitioner had not sold or served any liquor to the guests, who were occupying their respective rooms and the guests had consumed the liquor brought by themselves, I am unable to comprehend as to how the same could be considered as impermissible....
... any person can possess 4.5 Litres of IMFS; 4.5 Litres for Foreign liquor; 7.8 Litres of Beer; 9 Litres of Wine, at a given point of time, within the State. As such, the consumption of liquor by the guests in the petitioner premises cannot also be termed as illegal."
In view of these observations, the Court proceeded to allow the petition challenging the sealing by the assignee of the lease and directed that the property be de-sealed within two days. As a result, it was held that there is no harm and it is not considered illegal to allow unmarried couples to stay in a hotel premises as occupants.