The Madras High Court ruling that an unmarried couple of the right legal age indulging in “sexual gratification” could be termed husband and wife is shocking. Documentary evidence in the form of marriage registration may not be the only accepted proof of marriage. But to hold that pre-marital sex is enough proof of the same is unacceptable. Legal jurisprudence is a product of societal underpinnings. Traditional practices and customs have endured over thousands of years. Modern jurisprudence can supplant unwritten laws, not civilisational assets.
The High Court ruling undermines the social aspect of marriage and makes it a matter between just two involved individuals. Marriage is not just a means of sexual gratification. What about the mutual respect, love, companionship and commitment a marriage entails?
Indian society, which frowns upon marriages not performed customarily, will surely find it difficult to digest the ruling. How is a person, particularly woman, to produce documentary proof of sexual relationship?
The High Court has been fair to the woman who appealed to it against a lower court verdict. Her relationship with the man she lived with lasted long enough and they had two children. In similar cases, the judgment will definitely be of great help. But its logic cannot be stretched to cover two individuals making a choice of entering into a physical relationship without the intention of getting married.
The general ruling based on a specific instance goes against the established traditions and culture built with a view to establishing a society with ethics and moral values. The sanctity of marriage cannot be sacrificed for satiating a baser instinct.
The Madras High Court ruling on premarital sex is particularly important when viewed in the light of live-in relationships, which have been on the rise particularly in metros. The Delhi High Court ruled in Alok Kumar that live-in relationships are more like walk-in and walk-out relationships with no strings attached. The Madras High Court judgment puts a firm binding on premarital sex which is bound to raise eyebrows.
Preet Simar Sandhu,
The judgment is significant as it gives an altogether new definition to the institution of marriage. A marriage will no longer be a ritual but an act of substance — a physical reality which binds the persons involved to inevitable legal consequences of a physical act. The judgment will come to the rescue of thousands of hapless women who are persuaded into sexual indulgence by some unscrupulous men under the false promise of marriage and then dumped. It will also make men accused of rape think twice before taking the defence of consensual sex. All said, I wonder whether the orthodoxy and religious fanatics will allow the historic judgment to stand.
Keywords: Madras High Court