The Allahabad High Court recently denied protection to an inter-faith couple in a live-in relationship, while noting that the Supreme Court has not promoted live-in relationships, even if it may have accepted such relations to be a social reality [Kiran Rawat & Anr v State]
A bench of Justices Sangeeta Chandra and Narendra Kumar Johari observed that law has traditionally been in favour of marriage and that the Supreme Court did not have any intention to unravel the fabric of Indian family life when it made observations on live-in relations in various cases.
"The observations of the Supreme Court as aforesaid however cannot be considered to promote such relationships. Law traditionally has been biased in favour of marriage. It reserves many rights and privileges to married persons to preserve and encourage the institution of marriage. The Supreme Court is simply accepting a social reality and it has no intention to unravel the fabric of Indian family life," the High Court's order stated.
The bench proceeded to opine that the writ jurisdiction of High Courts, being an extraordinary jurisdiction, is not meant to resolve disputes between private parties.
"We believe that it is a social problem which can be uprooted socially and not by the intervention of the Writ Court in the garb of violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless harassment is established beyond doubt," the Court said.
The Court added that the petitioners before the Court can file a first information report (FIR) in the matter, if they are facing any threat to their lives on account of harassment from their relatives.
The Court added that if the parents or relatives find that their son or daughter has eloped for the purpose of marriage while underage or against their will, they are equally at liberty to take similar steps.
The Court was dealing with a plea for protection filed by a 29-year-old Hindu woman and a 30-year-old Muslim man.
The couple had claimed that they were being harassed by the police. The Court was also told that the woman's mother disapproved of the live-in relationship and that an FIR was filed against them.
The couple argued that no individual should interfere in their personal life and yet they were experiencing harassment from the police.
The Court, however, declined to intervene in the matter. It noted that the petitioners had not claimed that they were legally married, nor had they sought to protect a marital relationship. Rather, the petitioners had only argued that, as adults, they had the right to live with whomever they choose, the Court observed.
The Court found that, instead of filing a criminal complaint against the alleged harassment, "only a fictitious application with certain allegations, particularly by such persons as the petitioners herein enjoying a live-in relationship, is moved under Writ jurisdiction of the High Court."
The Court added that the case appeared to be "a circuitous way to get the seal and signature of the High Court upon their conduct without any verification of their age and other necessary aspects required to be done by the appropriate authority."
The Court also noted that Muslim law did not permit sexual relations outside marriage, including premarital relations and extra-marital relations.
"In fact any sexual, lustful, affectionate acts such as kissing, touching, staring etc. are 'Haram' in Islam before marriage because these are considered parts of 'Zina' which may lead to actual 'Zina' itself. The punishment for such offence according to Quran (chapter 24) is hundred lashes for the unmarried male and female who commit fornication together with the punishment prescribed by the "Sunnah" for the married male and female that is stoning to death," the Court observed.
The bench further opined that there is a need to create awareness in young minds about the emotional and societal pressures and legal hassles which may ensue live-in relations.
"Awareness has to be created in young minds not just from the point of view of emotional and societal pressures that such relationships may create, but also from the perspective that it could give rise to various legal hassles on issues like division of property, violence and cheating within live-in relationships, rehabilitation in case of desertion by or death of a partner and handling of custody and other issues when it comes to children born from such relationships. Partners in a live-in relationship do not enjoy an automatic right of inheritance to the property of their partner," the Court observed.
With these observations, the writ petition was dismissed.
"In case the petitioners approach the appropriate Court of law or to the police authority concerned raising their grievances, the same may be considered in accordance with law," the Court added.
Advocate Jalaj Kumar Gupta represented the petitioners.