The Madras High Court has said it is not illegal or immoral for unwed couples to stay in hotels or guest houses as live-in relationship is now as good as marriage.
Justice MS Ramesh made the observation while directing the de-sealing of a service apartment in Coimbatore where an unmarried couple lived and from where police recovered liquor bottles in a raid that followed complaints from neighbours of 'immoral activities'.
When live-in-relationship of two adults was not deemed to be a crime, the extreme step of sealing the premises of a service apartment on the ground that unwed couples were living there ” is totally illegal”, the judge said.
The judge passed the order on a petition challenging the sealing of the service apartment in Coimbatore which was run by a firm in Gurgaon in New Delhi. The petitioner said the police sealed the premises after a raid on June 25. He said no notice was given to him nor any explanation sought from him. The prosecution contended that the apartment did not have licence to run a guest house and it did not keep a proper guest list. It was raided following complaints from neighbours and sealed thereafter.
The judge said sealing the premises without seeking an explanation from the petitioners was against principles of natural justice. Moreover, when the alleged immoral activities may not be an offence, the authorities should have called for an explanation before taking any coercive action.
The judge also said consumption of liquor was also not an offence. "The entire episode of sealing the premises is in total violation of the principles of natural justice," he said.