Dealing with Police and Neighbours – A headache for live-in couples

live-in couple holding hand

Author’s Note

Live-in couples face a lot of tension worrying about police and neighbours who might cause trouble.

This holds true mostly for young couples.

The issues have been discussed quite generally and the solutions have been given quite exactly. What are the issues and how are they to be tackled, this is what this blogpost talks about.

Learn to deal with the police and neighbours confidently after knowing these laws.

Table of content

  1. Changing society and legality of live-in relationships
  2. How can the live-in couples protect themselves from the malafide actions of landlord
  3. How to deal with the Police?
  4. Moral policing faced by live-in couples by neighbours and the Section 110 of Bombay Police Act, 1951
  5. Conclusion

Changing society and legality of live-in relationships

There has been a drastic change in society when it comes to the concept of relationship. Live-in Relationships are one of the results of the modern day idea of relationship. There is no legal definition of a live-in relationship. But in the recent judgement of Payal Sharma vs. Nari Niketan,[1] the honourable Supreme Court came up with the view that “A live-in basically involves a couple to cohabit with each other without any responsibilities or obligations towards one another. So, it is basically a couple living under one roof like husband and wife but without the legal status of husband and wife.”

This idea is gaining a lot of popularity among the young generation of India. The major problem lies in the society in which we live in. The acceptability of this idea is very less which leads to bringing in many problems for the young couples. One of the major issues is getting a house on rent.

Many of the Landlords don’t accept the idea of live-in as legal. But in various judgements of the Supreme Court, the ultimate house of Justice has granted live-in Relationship the status of legal relationship, same as that of marriage. So if your landlord asks you of your legal status, show them these judgements –

  1. Payal Sharma vs. Nari Niketan[2]
  2. Indra Sharma vs V.K.V Sharma[3]
  3. Smt. Sabana @ Chand Bai & Anr vs. Mohd. Talib Ali[4]

How can the live-in couples protect themselves from the malafide actions of landlord

The most important as well as the law which comes into concern when it comes in this perspective is the “Right not to get evicted.”[5] The Landlord cannot evict the tenant as per his whims and fancies.

This issue is faced by many of the tenants. Once their partner moves in as a live-in partner, first the landlords tell them that it’s wrong, later the landlords ask them to leave the house. The landlords are barred from doing so.

The Rent Control Act of every state lays down the procedure by which a tenant can be evicted. No other procedure can be used to evict a tenant. A statutory legal procedure is mandatory to be followed for eviction. In case that your rent agreement does not come under the Rent Control Act of you State, the eviction process and terms have to be clearly put in the agreement itself according to the Transfer of Property Act.

A tenant cannot be evicted without serving him a notice stating valid and genuine reasons for evictions. The general rule says that they would be getting a notice period of minimum one month. it can be more than that as mentioned in the rent agreement.

If the premises are being rented for residential purposes then the grounds of eviction shall be:

  1. The owner himself is using other rented premises and wants to evict the tenant for personal use; and
  2. The subsequent purchaser of the property wants to evict the tenants; and
  3. If the tenant is using the property for any unlawful or illegal purposes; and
  4. Or the tenant has caused some damage to the property.

*Other than these, there are no other fundamental grounds for eviction.

Every society usually frames their rules and regulations which are to be abided by every person living in the society. In case, those rules and regulations do not allow the stay of a live-in couple, such landlords can deny giving on rent to a live-in couple. You can file a writ against them because by the virtue of Article 12 and Article 13 of the Indian Constitution any Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 cannot make bye-laws which violate your Fundamental Rights. In this case your fundamental right is Right to Life under Article 21.

In case you are initially living there as a single bachelor and then you decide to stay in live-in, you preferably have to move out of the society. Otherwise, the other members living in the society can object to your stay. But, if you choose to stay there they cannot do anything bu t give you genuine notice in advance to evict the place on reasonable grounds as per your Rent Agreement.

Article 21 grants every person the right to life which means, not mere animal existence but a life with dignity. Every person who is a tenant has certain rights. Article 21 also grants the person the right to privacy (Puttaswamy Judgement).[6] The relationship status of a person is also considered to be a part of privacy.

Therefore, the landlord has no right to infringe the tenant’s privacy until and unless it is leading to any sort of nuisance. By nuisance, it means some act which has been legally considered to be nuisance and not what the landlord feels to be nuisance.

Though, the landlord has all rights to deny giving his house on rent in the first place. But once the rental agreement has been signed, he cannot evict on any ground as per his whims and fancies.

How to deal with the Police?

Police personnel have nothing to do with the process of eviction.

In case your landlord brings some policeman to pressurize to leave the space then it is illegal. The Section 41 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code talks about the procedure to arrest and it is a mandatory to follow it.

The police officer who comes to arrest you should have his identity open. You can ask the Police Officer to show his ID if he is not wearing a Name Plate or a belt which has a Buckle Number (note down the buckle number).

When he makes an arrest, he needs to make a memorandum of arrest often called the Panchnama. And he needs to have it signed by witnesses who should be a respectable member of the society.

This is very important for the tenant to know that no random policeman can come and get you arrested. Moreover, you have all rights to inform your family or a friend whomever you want to inform.

The police have to inform them about your arrest. They have to tell you for what offence you are being arrested or why your house is being searched.

If the officer does not show you an arrest warrant or search warrant then ask him if he is there because he received any complaint against you related to a cognizable offence. You can be arrested for cognizable offences without a warrant. Warrant is the basic fundamental document that is required to make an arrest. A warrant for arrest is issued by the court and has the stamp of the court. Any police officer can arrest you, even beat constables, but then they must have reasonable and credible complaints and evidence for making such arrest and seizure.

If any officer tries to barge into your place without an arrest warrant or a search warrant and does not explain to you a valid reason for his conduct, then immediately dial the Police Helpline and report it along with the name of the police officer. Make videos, click images in case they are not wearing name plates and send in to friends and family immediately. Don’t be intimidated, the law is on your side if you haven’t done anything wrong and live-in relationships are 100% legal provided that the partners are above 18-years of age.

Without a warrant or a solid complaint against you or in a case where you haven’t committed any offence in front of him, police don’t have the right to enter into the premises of your house and if he does so, he has the status as that of a mere guest. Read Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

One should therefore be aware of the fact that which offences need a warrant and which don’t need a warrant.

The First Schedule of CrPC has enlisted the cognizable and the non-cognizable offences. Cognizable offences are those where the police do not need a warrant to arrest. An arrest warrant is necessary for all cognizable offences.

Moreover, there can be an instance where the police barges in acussing you or your partner of prostitution. Under those circumstances, you need to know that not all Police Officers have the power to arrest, search and seize. Under Section 13 of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956, only a Special Officer appointed by the State has powers to arrest, search and seize or authorise any other Police Officer for the same . Under Section 14 only officers above the rank of an SI are allowed to arrest without warrant for cases related to prostitution, however, this officer has to empowered by the Special Officer in this behalf.

Learn what they don’t want you to learn about prostitution – here.

The moral policing faced by live-in couples by neighbours and the Section 110 of Bombay Police Act, 1951

The biggest drawback of every society is the people living in the society themselves.

They believe that whatever they think is true, try to impose the same on others. Each of us must have faced this at some point of the time may be from aunts, uncles, or any elderly person around us. Well it’s very much on us not to disrespect them, but to implement or not to implement what they said is our choice too.

The idea of the people telling to other members if their act is moral or immoral amounts to moral policing. This also impacts the young couples, live-in couples to a very great extent. The continuous questioning of neighbours becomes troublesome for them.

In a recent order that was passed by the Joint Commissioner of Police in the year 2015 where they have issued strict instructions not to use the Sec 110 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951. The section basically gave the power to police to punish and fine someone who does some act which amounts to public indecency. It was being used to harass young couples who moved around the city by fining them or troubling them.

This shows the trend that the state government also doesn’t support the idea of moral policing. Then being a citizen, I have all rights not to entertain moral policing.

Conclusion

The relationship between tenant and landlord is to the extent of tenant and landlord, nothing more than that.

The landlord has no authority to question the tenant what he does in his private space. In case he wants to evict me from the house, he can follow a proper legal procedure either as per the Rent Agreement which has to be in accordance with the Indian Contrac Act, 1872 and the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.

Otherwise, you are well within your rights to stay within the house with your beloved partner and do whatever you want to do, until and unless you’re committing any offence.

  1. If they tell you that you have allegedly committed a cognizable offence then they may search the place or arrest you. However, they need a female police officer to be there with if you have women there. You have the full right of recording what they are saying or doing because no law stops you from doing that and it does not obstruct their duty.
  2. If they tell you that you have allegedly committed a non-cognizable offence then they need to present a search warrant or an arrest warrant or else they can only enter your house as a guest. You definitely have the duty to assist them. Do not misbehave, but don’t let them misbehave either.
  3. Mostly only heinous offences are cognizable. Do you think a beat constable would be coming to your place to nab you for a heinous offence? Police come prepared to nab criminals.
  1. Payal Sharma vs. Nari Niketan, 2001 SCC Online All 332.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Indra Sharma vs. V.K.V Sharma, (2013) 15 SCC 755.
  4. Smt. Sabana @ Chand Bai & Anr vs. Mohd Talib Ali, 2014 CriLJ 866 (Raj.).
  5. Dhan Devi And Anr. vs Bakhshi Ram And Anr. AIR 1969 P H 270.
  6. Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors, 2017 (10) SCALE 1.

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