In Banaskantha district of Gujarat, a man approached the high court seeking custody of his girlfriend from her husband, citing their live-in agreement as the basis for his claim. According to the petitioner, the woman was in a relationship with him and was married off against her will, but did not get along with her husband. She left him and came to live with the petitioner, and they signed a live-in relationship agreement. After some time, the woman’s family and in-laws took her back to her husband, and the petitioner filed a habeas corpus petition for her release on the grounds that she was being held against her will.
The state government opposed the petition, stating that the man had no standing to file such a petition, and that if the woman was in the custody of her husband, it could not be considered illegal. After hearing the case, the bench of Justice V M Pancholi and Justice H M Prachchhak ruled that the petitioner’s marriage to the woman was not solemnized, and she was not even divorced from her husband. As a result, the custody of the woman with her husband could not be considered illegal, and the petitioner had no locus standi to file the petition. They also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the petitioner, instructing him to deposit the money with the State Legal Services Authority.
While this case may seem straightforward, it raises important questions about the legal status of live-in relationships in India. Despite the fact that they are becoming increasingly common, there is still no legal recognition for such relationships in India, making it difficult for individuals in such unions to assert their rights and claim custody of their partners. This case also highlights the need for greater awareness and understanding about the legal implications of live-in relationships, both for individuals in such relationships and for society at large.