In an observation that will cheer votaries of pre-marital sex and live-in partners, the Supreme Court opined that a man and woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence.
"When two adult people want to live together, what is the offence? Does it amount to an offence? Living together is not an offence. It cannot be an offence," a three-judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan observed.
The court said even Lord Krishna and Radha lived together according to mythology.
The apex court said there was no law, which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex. The apex court made the observation while reserving its judgment on a special leave petition filed by noted south Indian actress Khusboo seeking to quash 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005.
The judges grilled the counsel for some of the complainants in the case and repeatedly stressed that the perceived immoral activities cannot be branded as offence.
The argument of the counsel was that her comments allegedly endorsing pre-marital sex would adversely affect the minds of young people leading to decay in moral values and country's ethos.
"Please tell us what is the offence and under which section. Living together is a right to life," the apex court said apparently referring to Article 21, which granted right to life and liberty as a Fundamental Right.
The apex court further said the views expressed by Khusboo were personal.
"How does it concern you? We are not bothered. At the most it is a personal view. How is it an offence? Under which provision of the law," the bench asked the counsel.
The apex court further asked the complainants to produce evidence to show if any girls eloped from their homes after the said interview.
"How many homes have been affected can you tell us," the bench asked while enquiring whether the complainants had daughters.
When the response was in the negative, they shot back, "Then, how are you adversely affected?"
Khusboo had approached the apex court after the Madras High Court in 2008 dismissed her plea for quashing the criminal cases filed against her throughout Tamil Nadu.