Mere claim of two adults living together for few days not sufficient to attach legitimacy to live-in relationship: P&H HC [Read Judgement]

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Mere claim of two adults living together for a few days will not be sufficient to attach legitimacy to a live-in relationship, the Punjab & Haryana High Court recently observed, dismissing a plea by a 20-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl who claimed to be in live-in relationship and sought protection to their life and liberty from their relatives.

The Court noted that the concept of live-in-relationship between two adults of opposite gender has got recognition in India also, as the legislature has injected some legitimacy in this kind of alliance, while promulgating “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” and liberally defined “domestic relationship” in Section 2(f).

However, it has to be constantly borne in mind that the length of the relationship coupled with discharge of certain duties and responsibilities towards each other are elements which would make such relationship akin to the marital relations, Justice Manoj Bajaj said.

“To attach legitimate sanctity to such a relation, certain conditions are required to be fulfilled by such partners. Merely because the two adults are living together for few days, their claim of live-in-relationship based upon bald averment may not be enough to hold that they are truly in live-in-relationship,” the Court ruled.

The Court also did not view favourably, the tendency of large number of young people to file petitions before the Court claiming to be in live-in relationship.

“Majority of such petitions contain formal symbolic averments, grounds with imaginary cause of action, and are rarely founded upon ‘actual’ or ‘real’ existence of threat, and these types of cases consume considerable time of this court, that too at the cost of many other cases waiting in line for hearing,” the Court remarked.

In the instant case, the contention of petitioners was that they were in love but the girl’s parents were opposed to the relationship.

The parents of the girl started making arrangements for her marriage even though she was below the legal age of marriage.

She then left her house and contacted the boy and they decided to reside together in live-in-relationship till they attain marriageable age.

They alleged that the parents of the girl then started threatening them whereupon they sent a representation to the police but since there was no action they were constrained to move the Court.

They also submitted that till date, there was no physical intimacy between the petitioners as they are waiting to attain the statutory marriageable age, therefore, the private respondents have no right to interfere in their life.

The Court said that two adults have the right to live together and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 to an extent legitimises such relationships.

However, as per the 2013 judgment of the Supreme Court in Indra Sarma v. VKV Sarma, there are conditions to attach legitimate sanctity to such relationships.

This include duration of relationship, shared household, pooling of resources and financial arrangements, domestic arrangement, sexual relationship, children, socialisation in public etc.

In the instant case, the Court noted that the girl is only 14 years old and the boy was representing her claiming himself to be the next friend of minor.

“Besides, the writ petition is not signed by any of the petitioners and in support of the pleadings, only the affidavit of petitioner No.1 (boy) has been filed,” the Court further observed.

It further stated that though, as per averments in the writ petition, entire blame has been put upon the natural guardians of the minor girl to set up compelling circumstances for her to voluntarily leave the house of parents, in order to join the company of the boy, but there is no pleading by him that his interest is not adverse to the interest of the minor and he is acting for the welfare of the minor girl.

Moreover, the Court also noted that the petitioner is already an accused in case of kidnapping the minor girl and, therefore, his stand to claim himself as lawful representative of minor girl is not worth acceptance.

Further, the representation to the police, the Court said, was also vague and bereft of any material facts and details.

“Thus, it is apparent that the present petition has been filed hastily by petitioner No.1 to put up a defence to the above FIR registered at the instance of respondent No.5 (father of the girl),” the Court said dismissing the plea.

The Court also ordered the Police to ensure that the custody of the minor girl is restored to her parents.

Read Judgment here:

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