Indian law does not permit parole to have conjugal relations with live-in partner: Delhi High Court


Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

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The Court said that prison rules do not recognise live-in partners as a family member.

The Delhi High Court recently observed that Indian law does not permit grant of parole on the ground of maintaining conjugal relationship with live-in partners.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said that a live-in-partner cannot claim right to have child with her partner who is in jail especially when the convict’s first wife is alive.

The Bench said that granting parole on the ground to have a child or to maintain conjugal  relationships with a live-in partner, where the convict already has a legally wedded wife and children born out of that wedlock, would set a harmful precedent.

“In case parole is granted on such grounds, it will open a flood gate of such petitions where many convicts may seek parole on the ground that they have a live-in partner apart from their legally wedded partner or in case of an unmarried convict, a live-in partner who may want to have a child with the convict. In this Court’s opinion, this cannot be permitted within the parameters of existing law as well as the relevant rules for grant of parole under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018,” the Court said

Justice Sharma further held that a live-in partner is not covered under the definition of a “family member” as per the prison rule.

“Thus, the live-in partner of the petitioner herein, who lacks legal recognition as a ‘wife’ or a ‘spouse’, cannot be held to fall within the scope of the definition of ‘family’ under Delhi Prison Rules,” the Court made it clear.

The Bench made the observations while dealing with a plea filed by one Sonu Sonkar, a murder convict seeking parole to consummate his marriage with his wife and for maintaining social ties.

The Court found that Sonkar was granted parole on several occasions and it was when he was on parole that he married another woman.

His present plea was filed seeking parole to maintain conjugal relations with this woman.

However, no document to prove the marriage or to show that he had divorced his first wife was presented before the Court.

Justice Sharma considered the case and noted that the question of consummation of marriage with the second woman does not arise since she was already pregnant and had given birth to a still born child.

The Court also noted that Sonkar already had three children from his first wife.

It, therefore, rejected the plea.

Case Title: Sonu Sonkar v The Lt Governor, Delhi & Ors (2024 Del HC)