In a constitutional sense, this is an untenable verdict

  • A recent Allahabad High Court decision in the case of Kiran Rawat vs. State of UP.
  • The court denied an interfaith couple in a live-in relationship’s request for protection from police harassment.
  • The court classified the live-in relationship as a “social problem” and relied on personal marriage legislation.

The Big Idea

  • A recent Allahabad High Court decision has received widespread national attention. The Supreme Court of India has frequently stated that the judgement in Kiran Rawat versus State of UP contradicts the notions of constitutional morality in personal relationships. The decision has been chastised for deviating from constitutional principles, disregarding precedent, and relying on irrelevant personal legislation.

What really is the situation?

  • The petitioners’ case, which involved a Muslim man and a Hindu woman, was brief and straightforward. They are roughly 30 years old, live together, and have a relationship founded on mutual love and affection.
  • They claimed that the local police tortured them while they were living in a rented residence, and they wanted protection from police harassment, which they claimed was done on the basis of a complaint made by a family member.

What exactly is constitutional morality?

  • The concepts and ideals incorporated in a constitution that drive the interpretation and application of its provisions are referred to as constitutional morality.
  • It covers the constitution’s spirit and aims, encouraging justice, equality, freedom, and the safeguarding of fundamental rights.
  • Constitutional morality extends beyond traditional social norms and practises, emphasising the need of adhering to constitutional principles even in the face of opposition or prevalent society ideas.

What is personal liberty?

  • Personal liberty refers to the individual’s freedom to make choices, decisions, and actions without undue interference or coercion from external forces, including the state or other individuals.
  • It is a fundamental right that is protected by various legal frameworks, including constitutions and human rights declarations.
  • Personal liberty refers to different aspects of a person’s existence, such as physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as autonomy and privacy.
  • However, personal liberty is not an absolute right and can be curtailed in some instances.

The following are the main criteria that make the judgement unconstitutional in the constitutional sense:

  • Putting Conventional Social Morality First: The High Court has been accused of being influenced by social morals rather than constitutional principles. Individual autonomy and personal liberty, which are key components of constitutional morality, are jeopardised as a result.
  • Despite acknowledging Supreme Court decisions on live-in partnerships, the High Court denies their intended purpose without presenting sound justifications. This weakens the legality of Supreme Court decisions as well as the consistency of legal interpretation.
  • Irrelevant Reliance on Personal Laws: The judgement is based on personal marital laws that are judged irrelevant to the situation. By doing so, the High Court departs from the constitutional framework and fails to prioritise people’ fundamental rights.

How does the decision reflect a leaning towards orthodoxy?

  • Assuming Marriage as a Condition Precedent: Despite the petition’s many flaws, the High Court could not have presumed that marriage is a prerequisite for constitutional protection and the enjoyment of fundamental rights.
  • Acting as a Theological Court: The High Court effectively behaved as a theological court, as if the concept of individual liberty and autonomy is alien to writ jurisdiction. The verdict demonstrates a definite preference for social rigidity and theological revivalism.
  • Reiteration of Traditional values: Rather than embracing a progressive and inclusive approach, the court attempted to reiterate traditional values on marriage and morals. The court fails to adapt changing societal norms and the importance of personal choices and freedoms by relying on and reinforcing traditional beliefs.
  • Rejection of Supreme Court Precedents: According to Article 141 of the Constitution, the law established by the Supreme Court is obligatory on all courts in the country. The Allahabad High Court’s decision dismisses the precedential importance of Supreme Court decisions on live-in relationships, including as D. Velusamy (2010), Indra Sarma (2013), and Dhanu Lal (2015). By doing so, the High Court ignores the Supreme Court’s instruction, which has recognised and protected the rights of individuals in live-in partnerships.

The Supreme Court’s decisions that defend personal liberty

  • Adultery is no longer a crime in Joseph Shine versus Union of India (2018): The Supreme Court decriminalised adultery under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the case of Joseph Shine vs Union of India (2018). Individual moral deviations, the court ruled, should not be penalised by the state’s police power. The court emphasised that faithfulness is a value, but it is not one that the government should regulate.
  • Section 377 knocked Down: In the case of Navtej Singh Johar (2018), the Supreme Court knocked down Section 377 of the IPC, which dealt with same-sex relationships. The court’s decision was based on constitutional law rather than moral judgement. It recognised the significance of personal decisions and restricted the state’s influence in the sphere of interpersonal relationships.
  • In the case of Lata Singh (2006), the Supreme Court urged police officers across the country to ensure that no adult undergoing intercaste or interreligious marriage be harassed by anyone.
  • Khushboo vs. Kanniammal and Others (2010): While it is true that the majority of our society believes that sexual contact should only occur between marital couples, the Supreme Court concluded that there is no criminal offence that occurs when adults willingly engage in sexual intercourse outside of the marital environment.
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.