Right to live-in relationship goes against Muslim custom: Allahabad High Court [9.5.2024]

The Allahabad High Court has said Muslims cannot claim the right to have a live-in relationship when they already have a spouse, according to a Bar and Bench website.

The court said the tenets of the religion did not permit live-in relationships during an existing marriage. The decision is rooted in the recognition of customs and usages alongside statutory and personal laws governing marital conduct, said the website.

A division bench comprising Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi and Justice Ajai Kumar Srivastava highlighted the importance of customs and usages as valid legal frameworks within the constitutional framework of India. According to the court, these customs and usages carry equal weight as laws enacted by legislatures.

The court said constitutional protection under Article 21 does not unconditionally support the right to a live-in relationship if such arrangements are prohibited by prevailing customs and usages within the community. Muslims cannot assert the right to engage in live-in relationships when customs and usages prohibit such unions, especially if they already have a living spouse.

Background of case

The High Court was hearing a petition seeking the quashing of a kidnapping case against a man and a plea to refrain from intervening in the relationship of a Hindu-Muslim couple.

The court observed that the couple had previously petitioned for the protection of their liberty. Upon examining the records, the court discovered that the Muslim man was married to a Muslim woman and the couple had a five-year-old daughter. In a later hearing, the man claimed that he had given triple talaq to his wife.

During the hearing on April 29, the court directed the police to produce the man's wife and requested both the man and his live-in partner to be present. However, the court was informed the next day that the man's wife was residing in Mumbai with her in-laws, contrary to the claims made by the man that she was in Uttar Pradesh.

The court noted that the petition seeking the quashing of the kidnapping case essentially aimed to legitimise the live-in relationship between the Hindu woman and the married Muslim man.

Acknowledging the importance of constitutional morality and social norms, the court emphasised that the continuation of the live-in relationship could not be granted while considering the rights of the wife and the interests of the minor child.

Consequently, the court directed the police to escort the man's live-in partner to her parents' home and submit a report on the matter. Additionally, the court raised concerns about the concealment of material facts and listed the case for further hearing on May 8.

The petitioners were represented by advocates Dhananjai Kumar Tripathi, Devendra Verma, Kajol, and Tanupriya, while advocate SP Singh represented the state, and advocate Suyansh Kumar Pandey represented the complainant.

09 May 2024