Live-in together couple should be treated as married: HC
Kochi: The Kerala High Court has ruled that man and woman who are in a live-in relationship should be treated as married couple. The court also ordered that the rules for a married couple regarding the custody of children will be applicable to the couple in live-in relationship.
The court issued the order while settling a plea of a living together couple over their child’s custody.
As per the case, a child of this living together couple was handed over to a child welfare committee. A family adopted the child from this committee. But later, the biological parents of the child approached the court seeking custody of the child.
Considering the plea, the division bench including justice Mushthaq and justice Dr Kauser observed that the unmarried couple holds the right on the custody of their child as per the juvenile justice act.
The court reminded that the juvenile justice act aims to ensure the safety of the child. The biological parents have right on their child. Marriage is not mandatory for seeking custody of their biological child, pronounced the court.
Background of the case
John and Anitha (names changed) who got acquainted during flood relief activities in 2018 fell in love with each other. But their families were not ready to accept their love.
The duo started a live-in-relationship and were planning to enter wedlock with the approval from both families. On February 3, 2020 Anitha gave birth to a baby girl.
Later, the couple got separated after John moved outside Kerala for a job.
Being a single mother, Anitha handed over the child to the district child welfare committee on May 8, 2020. She also signed a document declaring that the committee will have all rights for the child's custody. The committee has accepted the declaration of adoption considering Anitha as a single mother.
On August 17, 2020, the committee prepared a document for approving the child’s adoption. Later, a couple adopted the child on February 2, 2021.
Following this, Anitha and John approached the High Court seeking custody of the child. Now, the court has issued the verdict after accepting their plea as a revision petition.
The birth certificate of the child carried the names of John and Anitha as parents. Observing this, the court examined that the child welfare committee should have sought the permission of the parents before giving the child for adoption. Only permission of the mother was sought for adoption, hence the adoption of the child will remain illegal, pointed out the court.
Considering the plea, the High Court appealed to the government to frame a mechanism to support single mothers.
“Mother should not face discrimination and isolation from the society when the father leaves the family. Society will turn into a big failure if a woman thinks that she cannot survive without the support of a man,” observed the court.