Punjab & Haryana High Court Issues Guidelines to Protect Married Individuals in Live-In Relationships

punjab and haryana high court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: October 16, 2023 at 16:30 IST

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has emphasized that individuals in live-in relationships, even if they are married to others, cannot be denied protection solely based on the police’s moral judgments about such relationships.

Justice Arun Monga emphasized the paramount importance of the right to human life, which cannot be taken away except in accordance with the law, regardless of the nature of the relationship.

The bench has issued guidelines to sensitize police officials who often remain passive when couples fearing harm seek protection.

The court highlighted that police officers’ subjective views on moral considerations should not overshadow their duty to protect citizens’ lives, which often leads to unnecessary legal action.

The issued guidelines encompass several critical points:

1. Balancing the legality of live-in relationships with fundamental rights.

2. Safeguarding couples from threats, particularly from their own families.

3. Upholding the Rule of Law and refraining from taking matters into one’s own hands.

4. Protecting fundamental rights, such as the right to life and personal liberty, irrespective of the relationship’s nature.

5. The state’s responsibility to protect its citizens.

These observations came in response to a plea by a live-in couple, who were already married to other individuals, seeking protection due to fear of honor killing by the woman’s husband and family members.

The court emphasized that the key issue is not the legality of the petitioners’ relationship but their entitlement to protection under Article 21 of the Constitution, regardless of the nature of their relationship.

The court directed the Superintendent of Police to verify the contents of the petition, particularly the threat perception of the petitioners, and to proceed in accordance with the law, providing necessary protection for their life and liberty if deemed fit.

The court also ordered the circulation of the judgment to the Secretaries of the Home Department and the Directors General of Police of Haryana, Punjab, and Chandigarh for distribution to all SHOs of the police stations in their respective states.

It’s worth noting that the High Court had previously imposed a fine on married individuals entering into live-in relationships, emphasizing that such relationships are not permitted during the subsistence of their marriage.

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