Marriages may be made in heaven, but live-in relationship deeds are being solemnised in “presence of witnesses” by “male” and “female” partners with clauses that enable the signatories to terminate the charter after giving a month’s notice. The documents, making it clear that the relationship is not ‘marital’, also give the partners the right to approach a competent court of law for its implementation, if any of the parties backs out of the deed.
But such deeds have failed to find favour with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Ruling that the terms and conditions in the deeds were a “misuse of the process of law”, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan has asserted “it cannot be morally accepted in society”.
The “new concept of contractual live-in-relationship” was brought to Justice Sangwan’s notice after an 18-year-old girl and 19-year-old boy filed a petition seeking protection of life and liberty. Their counsel told Justice Sangwan’s Bench that certain terms and conditions had been settled by way of mutual consent in the “deed of live-in relationship” executed between the petitioners.
Justice Sangwan observed the deed made it clear that both parties had agreed to fully cooperate with each other without any dispute or issues and would not claim anything against each other. In the end, it was stated that the parties agreed to solemnise marriage on attaining marriageable age.
Appearing before Justice Sangwan’s Bench, the state counsel submitted that Section 26 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, provided that an agreement in restraint of marriage was void. As such, it could not be enforced as per Section 14 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.
Even otherwise, the petitioner “male partner” was not competent to perform marriage under the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. He was not even competent to have a live-in relationship with the petitioner “woman partner” as he had not attained the age of marriage. After hearing the arguments, Justice Sangwan dismissed the petition while asserting that the court did not find merit in the matter. The clauses, especially stating that it is not a ‘marital relationship’, were nothing but abuse of the legal process.