New Delhi: Pre-marital sex and live-in relationships have always evoked strong reactions from the society in general. In the backdrop of this, the Madras High court passing a judgement, declaring an unmarried couple of right legal age, who indulge in pre marital sex, as husband and wife is not only going to add a fresh twist to the endless debates but will also have far-reaching consequences on the interpretation of conjugal relations.

The Madras High Court said that if the boy is 21 and the girl 18, then both of them have the freedom of choice guaranteed by the constitution. According to the High Court, all the marriage ceremonies like tying of the mangalsutra, exchanging of rings etc. are meant only to comply with the religious customs for the satisfaction of the society.

The court also said that if the two partners of the right legal age have indulged in sex, then either party from the relationship can approach a family court for a declaration of marital status by supplying documentary proof of sexual relationship. If such a document is presented, then the girl can establish herself as the man’s wife in government records. The court also said that if the woman gets pregnant, she would be treated as the 'wife' and the man as the 'husband.'

The court also opined that if the couples later decide to separate due to differences of opinion, the ‘husband’ could not marry without getting a decree of divorce from the ‘wife’.

Justice Karnan made this declaration in his order on Monday while modifying a judgment of a family court case. The couple in question was not legally married but had been living together, with their relationship resulting in their two children. The woman had filed a petition in 2000, asking the man to pay monthly maintenance.

In his judgment, Justice Karnan directed the man to pay her maintenance of Rs.500 a month and Rs. 1000 as litigation expenses from the date of petition (September 2000) and that the arrears be paid within three months.

However, the judgment has created a furore online, with social media buzzing with angry messages.


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