Last week, the Punjab & Haryana High Court held that no offence would be made out, if being two adults are in a live-in relationship with each other, even though they are already married to someone else.
The Bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh observed that Section 497 of the IPC (providing punishment for adultery) has been declared unconstitutional by the Apex court in the case of Joseph Shine v. Union of India.
The high court was hearing a protection plea filed by a live-in couple seeking a direction upon the official respondents, not to harass them at the instance of respondents no.4 (wife of the petitioner Man) to 6.
Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that petitioner no.2 (Man) and respondent no.4 (Wife) having earlier been married. However, petitioner no. 2 filed a divorce petition, which was however dismissed, upon which an appeal was filed by him before this court which is still pending; and in an order passed in that appeal on 30.09.2008, it was observed by this court that there are no chances of reconciliation.
Punjab & Haryana High Court
The court heard arguments of both parties and considering the circumstances of the case, the court was of the prima facie view,
No offence would seem to have been committed by the petitioners, they being adults in a live-in relationship with each other, whether or not any divorce petition is pending before this court.
The court also expressed its disagreement with the Allahabad High Court’s Social Fabric ruling in which the High Court had observed that live-in-relationship cannot be at the cost of the social fabric of this Country and that without obtaining a divorce, a spouse is not entitled to protection qua a relationship with another person.
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Justice Amol Rattan Singh of the Punjab & Haryana High Court remarked,
With due respect, I find myself unable to agree with that (Allahabad HC’s ruling), especially in view of the fact that the Supreme Court in Joseph Shine v. Union of India… has struck down Section 497 of the IPC as being has been unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India, (the said provision being one providing punishment for adultery).
Lastly, the Court issued notice to the State of Punjab in the matter and directed the SSP, Khanna, to ensure that the life and liberty of the petitioners is duly protected at the hands of respondents no.4 to 6, as also at the hands of the SHO. The court concluded,
Obviously a very adverse view to be taken by this court in case the petitioners are again harassed by the SHO on account of any live-in-relationship that they have with each other.
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