Live-in Registration: 'Big Daddy's Smart Plan To Scare Youngsters? OPINION
New Delhi: In another ‘I am looking at you’ move, Uttarakhand state government yesterday introduced a Bill that makes it mandatory for live-in couples to register with them!
But pray, what about privacy? That oft used but completely abused notion of our times. Because the more we attempt to be private the more public our lives get. So in this mastermind of a plan to register live-in couples, which mind you also have to be traditionally heterosexual – because Hello, what other category of couples are there?
Tch tch – not a thought is spared that many couples decide to live together because they do not want the trappings of traditional bounds that marriages bring. If they had to go through the rigmarole of explaining their relationship to the most judgmental and intrusive section of society, why would they simply not get married? So the very purpose of a consensual relationship between adults who want to keep it private, is defeated by the Government playing Big Daddy.
Let us picture a scenario which might play out. A young much-in-love couple pursuing their post Graduation in Medicine decide to live together. The girl belongs to a so-called ‘upper caste’ from Haryana and is in Uttarakhand only to study. The boy is a local. Thanks to the new Law (in our picturization this has become – shudder – the Law!) the boy and the girl go to register their live-in status. Remember, the girl is not married, so her name will always be accompanied by ‘daughter of’ (UGH) as opposed to the ‘wife of’ when she does get married (UGH UGH). Which means, our well meaning big Daddies get access to the father’s name and address. And then of course they HAVE to investigate, don’t they? So off they go contacting the girl’s family, who until then had no notion of their ‘innocent’ daughter playing house with a boy! All hell breaks loose and the girl is marched back to her hometown. "Is this why we sent you away to study?"
This may or may not be an exaggerated example, but in a nation where young couples are even killed for simply falling in love, giving the Government ring side seats to their private lives is like giving the State loaded ammunition which can be triggered off at will. The harassment and intrusiveness is bound to make life hell for these young people in love who want a ‘no strings attached’ involvement – precisely by attaching strings to it.
And the penalty involves imprisonment! This surely takes the cake. Under the garb of providing babies legitimacy and women their right to maintenance, this is just another move to scare youngsters from even considering a relationship out of wedlock, forcing the patriarchal and archaic notions of marriage down the throats of those who simply want to be with the ones they love without the trappings of societal consent and legal formalities.
The highest Court of the land has already given landmark judgments that are showing the way how to deal with situations arising from any cohabitation – regardless of gender! Why then do we need States to create such monsters that reek of archaic and orthodox notions…In an attempt to be perceived as moving with the times, the big Daddies are simply ensuring that the laws around live-in relationships are made so difficult that couples would automatically shy away from them. Thanks, but no Thanks!!
(This article is written by Dahlia Sen Oberoi, a gold medallist from the Delhi University, who is a leading intellectual property rights lawyer with an international standing. Co-founder of the Delhi based law firm Sen-Oberoi, she has spearheaded many anti-counterfeiting and anti- piracy actions with the Courts, the Police and other enforcement agencies. Views expressed are personal.)