In its decision to grant bail to a man accused of raping his live-in partner, the Allahabad High Court expressed its concern on Tuesday. The court noted that there seems to be a deliberate effort to undermine the sanctity of marriage in India, with films and TV serials playing a role in this phenomenon.
The court further stated that the the brutish concept of "changing partners in every season" cannot be considered to be a hallmark of a "stable and healthy" society. The HC stressed that the level of security and stability offered by the institution of marriage cannot be equated with that of a live-in relationship.
The bench led by Justice Siddharth said: "Live-in-relationship shall only be considered as normal after the institution of marriage becomes obsolete in this country, like in many of the so-called developed countries where it has become a big problem for them to protect the institution of marriage. We are proceedings to create a great problem for us in future...Infidelity to a partner in a married relationship and having a free live-in-relationship are being shown as signs of a progressive society. The youth gets attracted to such philosophy being advanced unaware of the long-term consequences."
Crucially, the Court held the opinion that an individual lacking harmonious family ties cannot actively contribute to the nation's advancement. When discussing live-in relationships, Justice Siddharth also highlighted that constantly transitioning from one relationship to another does not lead to a meaningful life, and children born from such relationships encounter numerous challenges.
"When their parents separated, they became a burden on society. They fall into the wrong company and a national loss of good citizens occurs. In the case of a female child born out of live-in-relationship, there are other ill effects which are too obvious to be elaborated on. Courts came across such cases daily," the bench said.
The bench also believed that while such relationships may initially seem highly appealing and entice young individuals, with the passage of time, middle-class social values and norms come into focus. Consequently, couples in such relationships eventually come to the realisation that their union lacks social approval and cannot be sustained for a lifetime.
The Court issued these observations in a case where it granted bail to Adnan, who had been arrested on April 18, 2023, for allegedly reneging on his promise to marry his live-in partner. The case revolved around a 19-year-old girl, as per the ossification test report, who had formed a live-in relationship with the accused after befriending him. They had been in this relationship for a year, engaged in a consensual physical relationship, and when she became pregnant, he refused to honor his commitment to marry her. Consequently, she accused him of rape on the basis of a false promise of marriage.
After considering both sides' arguments, the Court found that this was another instance where a young couple had separated "after enjoying the live-in relationship." The Court observed that, as is often the case, the victim had filed the FIR in an attempt to establish a secure marital relationship with the accused and conform to socially accepted norms. The Court further commented that after a breakup, it becomes challenging for the female partner to face society, as middle-class society tends to stigmatize separated women as abnormal. The Court added that this often leads victimized women to seek the conversion of their relationship into a socially sanctioned marriage by filing such FIRs.
Moreover, the Court emphasized the significance of middle-class morality in our country, given that the majority of the population falls within this demographic. Highlighting that the stability and socio-political-economic well-being of a nation depend on the size and health of the middle class, the Bench pointed out that many of the issues faced by Pakistan are primarily due to the absence of a substantial middle class.
"The absence of middle class and middle-class morality in Pakistan is ample testimony of the social, political, religious, ethical and other types of unrest. Most of the problems being faced by Pakistan are mainly due to the lack of a middle class. The middle class has a vested interest in maintaining social, political, religious and other orders of society since it has optimum means of fair survival and it does not want that it should be deprived of the same. Pakistan consists mostly of the highest class and poor class. The middle class is not much in that country," the bench noted.
Considering this context, the Court approved the applicant's bail upon his provision of a personal bond and two sureties, each in an equal amount, to the court's contentment.