The Kerala High Court bench headed by Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath were faced with a petition by an unmarried couple who sought custody of their child who was surrendered for adoption. The court ruled in their favour stating that – “Once it is found that the child is born to a couple, for all practical purposes of JJ Act, an inquiry must be initiated as though the child belonged to a married couple.”
The couple was in a live-in relationship when they got pregnant. However, the relationship wasn’t approved by their parents. When they decided to break the relationship, the female partner gave up the child for adoption stating that she wouldn’t be able to handle the anxiety that comes with being a single mother. The child was handed over to the Child Welfare Committee, which treated the female partner as a single mother. Later, when the couple reconciled, they wanted their child back and approached the Kerala HC with a Habeas Corpus petition.
Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath were faced with a complicated situation whether to categorise the couple who were in a live-in relationship as married or not. They finally came to the conclusion that “if a woman feels she is nothing without the support of a man that is the failure of the system” and “in a live-in relationship, a couple acknowledges the mutual rights and obligations. Offspring in such a relationship is acknowledging biological parental rights of both.”
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The HC, therefore, granted their rights to claim their child as their natural right without being hammered down by the legal institution of marriage. They shared, “There is no difficulty in holding that a child born in a live-in relationship also has to be construed as a child born to a married couple.”
This is a remarkable, progressive move by the Kerala HC. To read more about the case, click here.