The landmark verdict was issued by a Division Bench comprising Justice V Chitambaresh and Justice K P Jyothindranath while dismissing a petition filed by Muhammed Riyad of Alappuzha seeking a directive to the police to produce his 19-year-old daughter who was being allegedly detained by the 18-year-old boy.
The Supreme Court had recently held that adults have the right to be in a live-in relationship, even if they have not attained the legal age for marriage.
The court said it cannot close its eyes to the fact that live-in relationships have become rampant in our society and such partners cannot be separated by the issue of a writ of a habeas corpus provided they are major. 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. The court held that the girl is free to live with the boy or marry him later when he attains the marriageable age.
The court noted that the girl and the boy are in a live-in relationship, and are practically living as husband and wife though not legally wedded. The father of the girl assured that he is willing to let go of his daughter with the boy after a legal and valid marriage but not for a live-in relationship. According to her father, the girl has not completed 21 years of age and hence is a 'child' as defined under Section 2 (a) of the prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. The father submitted that there can be no valid marriage between the girl and the boy and any offspring born on them can only be an illegitimate child in the eye of law.
The court observed that the girl had attained puberty and had the capacity to marry both under Section 251 of Mahomedan Law as well as the provisions of the Act. "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 held.