Is Court required to grant protection to couples in live-in relationship? Punjab & Haryana High Court refers matter to larger Bench

A larger Bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court will decide whether the Court, without examining the marital status and the other circumstances of the case, grant protection to two persons living together.
The order referring the matter to a larger Bench was passed by Justice Anil Kshetarpal in view of a slew of conflicting orders passed by different Benches of the High Court in this regard in the recent past.
It framed the following questions for consideration by larger Bench:

  • Where two persons living together seek protection of their life and liberty by filing an appropriate petition, whether the Court is required to grant them protection, per se, without examining their marital status and the other circumstances of that case?
  • If the answer to the above is in the negative, what are the circumstances in which the Court can deny them protection?
    The order was passed in a petition filed by two persons one of whom was married but had run away after his relationship with his wife had strained.
    He had not obtained a divorce but was staying with the other petitioner which was not acceptable to their relatives.
    They had then approached the Court for protection.
    On May 18, Justice Jaishree Thakur ruled that although the concept of a live-in relationship may not be acceptable to all, it cannot be said that such a relationship is an illegal one or that it constitutes an offence.
    She, therefore, directed the police to decide on the representation of the petitioners for protection and grant them protection if there is any threat to their life and liberty.
    That same day, Justice Sudhir Mittal highlighted that live-in relationships are not prohibited prohibited in law and that persons who enter into such relationships were entitled to equal protection of the laws

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