Mere claim of two adults living together for few days not sufficient to attach legitimacy to live-in relationship: Punjab & Haryana High Court
The Punjab & Haryana High Court recently ruled that a claim of two adults living together for a few days is insufficient to establish the legitimacy of a live-in relationship, dismissing a petition filed by a 20-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl who claimed to be in a live-in relationship and sought protection from their relatives. The Court noted that the concept of a live-in relationship between two adults of opposing gender has gained recognition in India, as the legislature has injected some legitimacy into this type of alliance by promulgating the "Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005," which liberally defines "domestic relationship" in Section 2 (f). However, Justice Manoj Bajaj pointed out that the length of the relationship, as well as the discharge of certain duties and responsibilities toward one another, are aspects that would render such a connection equivalent to marital connections. “For such a relationship to have legitimate sanctity, certain conditions must be met by such parties. The Court concluded that “just because the two adults are living together for a few days does not mean that their claim of live-in-relationship based on bald averment is sufficient to hold that they are actually in live-in-relationship.” The Court also did not think it was a good idea for a significant number of young individuals to file court applications claiming to be in a live-in relationship. “The vast majority of such petitions contain formal symbolic averments, grounds with imaginary cause of action, and are rarely founded on the 'actual' or'real' existence of threat, and these types of cases consume significant time of this court, at the expense of many other cases waiting in line for hearing,” the Court observed.
In this case, the petitioners claimed that they were in love, but that the girl's parents were against the relationship. However, according to the Supreme Court's decision in Indra Sarma v. VKV Sarma in 2013, such relationships must meet certain criteria in order to be considered valid. This includes things like the length of the relationship, the shared household, the pooling of resources and financial arrangements, the domestic arrangement, the sexual relationship, the children, and public socialisation.
In this case, the Court recognised that the girl is only 14 years old, and the boy was acting on her behalf, claiming to be the minor's next friend. Thus, it appears that petitioner No.1 has filed this petition in haste in order to raise a defence to the foregoing FIR filed at the instance of respondent No.5 (the girl's father)," the Court stated in dismissing the plea. The court also directed the police to guarantee that the underage girl's care was returned to her parents.