A couple living together merely for a few days cannot claim to be in a live-in relationship based on a “bald averment [mere claims]”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said, according to PTI.

Justice Manoj Bajaj observed that aspects like how long couples have lived together, and the responsibilities discharged by them mattered while considering if live-in relationships were akin to marital ones.

The court was hearing a plea filed by a couple from Haryana’s Yamunanagar district seeking protection from the family members of the woman. The court dismissed the petition and fined the couple Rs 25,000.

The counsel for the petitioners said that the couple was in love and would marry when they reach the legal age of marriage. The woman is 18 years old, while the man is 20.

The woman had run away from her house as her parents were opposed the relationship and had decided to get her married to another man. The counsel said the woman started living with her partner in a live-in relationship from November 24 – two days before the court heard the matter. The petitioners alleged that the woman’s parents had threatened to be implicate the couple in a fabricated case.

The court, however, held that the apprehension of threat seemed misplaced.

“..No complaint has been made so far against them by the private respondents,” the judge said.

He added: “The society, for the last few years, has been experiencing profound changes in social values, especially among exuberant youngsters, who in pursuit of absolute freedom, leave the company of their parents, etc. to live with the person of their choice, and further in order to get the seal of the court to their alliance, they file petitions for protection by posing threat to their life and liberty.”

He went on to add that rarely family members of the man are opposed to such relationships.

“Such petitions are ordinarily based on the sole ground of apprehension of threat predicted against the disapproving parents or other close relatives of the girl only,” the judge said.

According to the court order, the couple’s right to live together “is either based on their sudden, secretive and small destination marriage or upon live-in-relationship”.

The judge said that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has “liberally defined” domestic relationships in Section 2(f) of the law. This section defines “domestic relationship” as one between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household.

“However, despite this elasticity, some sections of the society are reluctant to accept such kinds of relationships,” he added.