The single bench of the court passed the order on the plea of a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old boy from Bathinda, Punjab. The couple had requested for the safety of their lives and freedom from the family members. The court said incidents of ‘honour killing’ keep happening in northern India, especially in some areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and said it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the safety of such a couple.
The petitioners said that the girl’s parents wanted her to get married elsewhere as they came to know about the relationship between the two. The girl left her guardian’s house and started living with her spouse. He did not marry because of not being of marriageable age. The couple said that they requested the Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police to provide security but did not get any response.
In this regard, the Assistant Advocate General, Punjab informed the court that the couple is not married and is living in a live-in relationship. He further said that recently some benches have dismissed cases where a couple living in such a relationship had requested for security. Justice Sant Prakash, in his order dated June 3, wrote, “If anyone has decided to live together without marriage, refusing to provide security to such persons would be a mockery of justice and such persons would be subject to dire consequences.” They may have to suffer, from which they need protection.
In such a situation, if protection is denied, the court will also fail to perform its duty in upholding the right to life and liberty to the citizens and the rule of law under Article 21 of the Constitution, the judge said. Justice Prakash said, “The petitioners have decided to live together without marriage and it is not for the court to evaluate their decision.”
“If the petitioners have not committed any offence, there is no reason for this court to reject their request for grant of protection,” the judge said. Therefore, in line with the view of the bench refusing to provide protection to the couple living in a live-in relationship, this Court is not in favor of adopting the same view.
The court directed the Bathinda SSP to provide security to the petitioners. Earlier, different benches had given different decisions regarding the couple living in a live-in relationship. A single bench of Justice HS Madan, in its May 11 order, while dismissing the plea of a Punjab-based couple seeking to provide security, had held that live-in relationship was not morally and socially acceptable. At the same time, Justice Sudhir Mittal of the High Court, in his May 18 order, while providing security to a couple from Haryana, said that there is increasing social acceptance of such relationships.