Live-in relationship not a crime, now an acceptable norm: A-G

Arguing for criminal defamation, Rohatgi says prying into personal life serves no public good

July 24, 2015 02:27 am | Updated November 17, 2021 05:51 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that live-in relationships should be seen as an “acceptable norm,” and pointed to how reputations of public personalities are often sullied in public because someone pried into their private life.

“With the changes in standards of society, live-in relationship is now an acceptable norm, akin to marriage. It is not a crime,” Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted. His submissions came in response to queries from a Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra as to whether exposing a public figure’s live-in relation would make a person liable for criminal defamation.

“What a public figure does in the evening at his home, I don’t think it would serve any public good even if it is the truth. Public figure is known for discharge of public functions, actions and transaction of business. This [live-in relationship] is matter of private life. There is distinction between conduct in private and public life,” Mr. Rohatgi said.

The exchange happened during the hearing into a batch of petitions led by BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy seeking to decriminalise defamation.

“In the 1950s, the spoken word would reach hardly five people. Today, the spoken word would reach 500 million people through the social media. With such technology, a smear on reputation leaves an indelible mark,” Mr. Rohatgi submitted.

The court questioned why the state should use tax payers’ money to protect a public official. “Why should the state come in? Let him go and defend his own reputation,” Justice Misra remarked.

Arguments will continue on July 28.

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