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Adultery no offence- Grants protection to live-in couple involving married man
Paramjit Kaur and another Vs State of Punjab and others
Punjab and Haryana HC
CRWP-7874 of 2021
About/from the judgment:
The High Court held that no offence would be made out if being adults, two people are in a live-in relationship with each other, even though they are already married to someone else.
The Bench observed thus while underscoring 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.
Case in brief
The 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.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted that petitioner no.2 (Man) and respondent no.4 (Wife) have already been married, however, he filed a divorce petition, which was however dismissed, upon which an appeal was filed by him before the High court and which is still pending.
Hearing the arguments of the parties and considering the circumstances of the case, the Court was of the prima facie view that 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.
Importantly, 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.
Holding thus, the Allahabad High Court had, last month, dismissed the protection plea of a married woman living with her partner with exemplary cost of Rs.5,000.
"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)."
Importantly, relying upon the 'Social Fabric' ruling of Allahabad High Court, the Rajasthan High Court last month denied police protection to a married lady, who was in a live-in relationship with another man and who sought police protection against some private persons who are not happy with her relationship.
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.
"...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," the Court sternly remarked.
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