Unmarried couples are almost always at the receiving end in India. With little or no access to privacy like booking hotel rooms and roaming around freely, here's everything you need to know about the rights unmarried couples enjoy in India.
1. Unmarried couples can check-in to a hotel together provided they are above 18 years of age and possess a valid identity proof.
There is no law that prohibits unmarried couples from staying together or checking-into a hotel. Several hotels and guests houses in India do not allow unmarried couples.
In 2019, when the Coimbatore district administration sealed an apartment on finding that it was occupied by an unmarried couple, the Madras High Court stepped in and clarified,
Apparently, there are no laws or regulations forbearing unmarried persons of opposite sex from occupying hotel rooms as guests. While live-in relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence terming the occupation of hotel room by an unmarried couple will not attract a criminal offence.
2. Unmarried couples from the same city can check into a hotel room.
There is no law in India that prohibits hotels from hosting unmarried guests who belong to the same city as the hotel's location. However, hotel managers can exercise the discretion here.
3. No law forbids an unmarried couple to rent a house in India.
It is important for you to know that you make a rent agreement in the name of both the persons while renting a house.
4. The police cannot arrest consenting adults staying in a hotel room with valid IDs.
5. The Constitution of India or any other statute does not restrict unmarried couples sitting in a public place.
While the section 294 of IPC states that any “obscene act” in public places will be punished by three months imprisonment, this law is often misused by cops. So, if you are just taking a stroll with your partner or sitting on the beach, you cannot be arrested by the police on the grounds of obscenity.
6. The police cannot harrass unmarried couples for engaging in consensual sex in private places.
The Constitution of India grants us the right to privacy through article 21 and sexual autonomy is an integral part of this article. The Supreme Court has also reiterated this in its judgements - the 2017 Puttaswamy judgment and the 2018 Navtej Johar judgment.
7. The Supreme Court has held the legitimacy of children born out of live-in relationships where the couple has been cohabitating for a considerable period of time.
Delivering the judgement in S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, the Supreme Court said:
If a man and woman are living under the same roof and cohabiting for some years, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate.
8. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 acknowledges the right of partners in a live-in relationship to get protection from abusive relationships.
Not allowing unmarried couples privacy is a refusal to acknowledge the fact that they are mature enoguh to make their own decisions and also enjoy certain rights that most of us are not aware of.