As the nation reels under instances of honour killings and moral policing, the Kerala High Court came out with a landmark decision on Friday.
Squashing her father’s petition, a Kerala HC bench upheld the right of a 19-year-old girl to live with her 18-year-old partner. It said that the court could not “shut its eyes to live-in relationships.”
Only last month the Supreme Court had passed a monumental order that stated that adults had the right to be in live-in relationships, regardless of whether they have attained the legal age of marriage.
The petition in this case was filed by an Alappuzha resident. He stated that his daughter had not attained the ‘legal age’ of marriage, and therefore she should be treated as a ‘child’ under Section 2 (a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006.
According to a News18 report, he even said, if the couple decided to marry at their current age, their marriage would be considered invalid and their child ‘illegitimate’.
But the division bench of Justice V Chitambaresh and Justice K P Jyothindranath dismissed his petition. It stated that the couple could not be separated by writ of a habeas corpus since both of them were majors (above 18 years).
The girl is 19-years-old, which means she has attained puberty and has the right to marry under Section 251 of the Mahomedan Law and the provisions of the Marriage Act under the Kerala HC bench.
It also added, “The constitutional court is bound to respect the unfettered right of a major to have a live-in relationship even though the same may not be palatable to the orthodox section of the society. A girl who has turned adult can decide her life. The court cannot act as a super guardian as long as the law permits the live-in relationship of two adults. It cannot act on emotional grounds.”
And so the girl is free to live with the boy and even marry him when he attains the marriageable age under the law.
“It transpires that the girl is living with the youth out of her own volition and she, being a major, has a right to live whatever she wants to as is permissible or to move as per her choice. The girl has every right to live with the youth even outside her wedlock since the live-in relationship has been statutorily recognized by the Legislature itself,” the court said.
In a country where unmarried live-in couples continue to be victims of moral judgements and face struggles even to find suitable accommodation, this decision by the Kerala HC is laudable!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)