CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted protection to a young couple involved in a live-in relationship, observing that it is not for the courts to judge them if they want to stay together without sanctity of marriage.
The order of the single bench came following a petition by a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old-man from Punjab's Bathinda who sought protection of their life and liberty from the family members of the former.
The court also observed that honour killings were prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and said it is for the state to ensure protection of such couples.
The petitioners submitted that the parents of the girl wanted her to marry a person of their choice as they had come to know about her relationship.
She left her parents' home and started living with her partner.
They decided to live together till such time as they could solemnise a marriage on attaining the marriageable age.
They further submitted that they had approached the Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police, seeking protection but there had not been any response.
Following a notice of motion, the Punjab Assistant Advocate General submitted that the couple seeking protection were not married and, according to their own pleadings, were in a live-in relationship.
He further submitted that the coordinate benches have recently dismissed similar matters, where protection was sought by persons who are in live-in relationship.
"It would be a travesty of justice in case protection is denied to persons who have opted to reside together without the sanctity of marriage and such persons have to face dire consequences at the hands of persons from whom protection is sought.
"In case such a course is adopted and protection denied, the courts would also be failing in their duty to provide its citizens a right to their life and liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and to uphold to the Rule of law," Justice Sant Parkash wrote in his June 3 order.
"The petitioners herein have taken a decision to reside together without the sanctity of marriage and it is not for the courts to judge them on their decision," the judge observed.
While observing that one cannot lose sight of honour killings prevalent in northern parts of India, particularly in parts of states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the judge said,"It is for the State at this juncture, to ensure their protection and their personal liberty."
"If the petitioners herein have not committed any offence, this court sees no reason as to why their prayer for grant of protection cannot be acceded to. Therefore, with due respect to the judgments rendered by coordinate benches, who have denied protection to couples who are in live-in relationship, this court is unable to adopt the same view," the single bench said in its order.
The court directed the Bathinda SSP to grant the protection to the petitioners.
Some benches have earlier given different verdicts in matters pertaining to live-in relationships.
A single bench of Justice H S Madaan in his May 11 order had said a live-in-relationship is morally and socially not acceptable while dismissing a petition of a runaway couple from Punjab, seeking protection of their life and liberty.
Justice Sudhir Mittal of the high court in the May 18 order had granted protection to a Haryana couple who were in a live-in relationship while observing that social acceptance of such relationships is on the increase.