Case BriefsHigh Courts

“Occupation of hotel room by an unmarried couple, will not attract a criminal offence”

Unmarried couples sharing hotel room doesn’t attract criminal offence

Madras High Court: M.S. Ramesh, J., while allowing the present petition calling out the action of the respondent with respect to the sealing of petitioner’s hotel to be illegal as it did not follow the principles of natural justice.

Petitioner has stated that a search was conducted from the office of Tahsildar and during the search certain liquor bottles were found inside one of the rooms occupied by the guests and in one room two adults, male and female who were not married with each other were staying. Further, it was stated that the team without any order sealed the petitioner’s premises.

Petitioner’s counsel K. Chandrasekaran stated that no justification on the part of the respondents was put forward with respect to no opportunity being given to the petitioner in regard to putting forth their objections and sealing of the premises without any order being served to the petitioner, which is in violation of the principles of natural justice.

Additional Public Prosecutor, C.Iyyapparaj, informed the Inspector of Police that the petitioner’s premises had not obtained Form ‘D’ and without details of the guests in the booking registers, permitted illegal activities by the guests.

It has also been stated that various print media and social media reports were produced before the Court to ascertain the fact that the petitioner permitted unmarried couples to stay in the hotel rooms, which has been termed to be immoral.

A specific question was put to the respondents as to what could be the illegality in permitting the unmarried couples to stay in the hotel rooms?

High Court stated that,

“there are no laws or regulations forbearing unmarried persons of opposite sex to occupy hotel rooms, as guests. While live-in-relationship of two adults is not deemed to be an offence, terming the occupation of hotel room by an unmarried couple, will not attract a criminal offence.”

Court added to its conclusion that, the extreme step of sealing the premises on the ground that an unmarried couple were occupying the premises, is totally illegal in the absence of any law prohibiting the same.

In response to the contention of the respondents that certain liquor bottles were found in the room occupied by the guests and since the premises does not possess the license to serve or sell liquor inside, the action of sealing was initiated;

Court stated that Tamil Nadu Liquor (Possession for Personal Consumption) Rules, 1996, permits any individual person to possess various types of liquor in specified quantities. Any person can possess 4.5 Litres of IMFS; 4.5 Litres for Foreign liquor; 7.8 Litres of Beer; 9 Litres of Wine, at a given point of time, within the State. Thus, the consumption of liquor by the guests cannot be termed as illegal.

High Court noting the above held that sealing of the premises was in total violation of the principles of natural justice. Hence the Court would be justified in invoking its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

In view of the above, the respondent has been directed to de-seal the petitioner’s premises. [Mypreferred Transformation and Hospitality (P) Ltd. v. District Collector, Coimbatore; 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 9835; decided on 26-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mohit Kumar Shah, J. while hearing a civil writ petition ruled that the district administration was not empowered to order sealing of a property and direct eviction of the possessor therefrom.

The present petition was filed praying for quashing order of Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Gaya whereby petitioner’s shop had been sealed on the basis of a complaint of his landlady alleging that despite demanding the petitioner-tenant to vacate the shop, he had refused to do so and had instead, threatened her.

The Court opined that the District administration was not empowered to seal the shop of the petitioner at the instance of his landlady. Petitioner’s eviction or sealing of his shop could have taken place only after following the due process of law. If the landlady wanted to evict the petitioner, she was free to approach the Court of competent civil jurisdiction for the said purpose.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed and impugned order was quashed. District Administration was directed to open the seal of petitioner’s shop and hand over its possession to him within three days of the date of the present order.[Ram Pravesh Yadav v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2170, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, JJ., addressed a petition concerning the defiance of the Court orders in regard to the sealing operations by a Member of Parliament.

The learned Amicus Curiae, Ranjit Kumar filed a report in the Court which stated that Manoj Tewari, being a Member of Parliament acted in defiance of the Apex Court’s order by breaking the seal of premises during the sealing operations being conducted in accordance to the orders of the Court.

Therefore, by taking into consideration the report of the monitoring committee in which it was stated that there had been violation of orders of the Court and interference in the administration of justice which is clearly Contempt of Court. The Bench, in order of the Contempt of Court, issued a notice to the contemnor and asked to return on 25-09-2018.

Further, learned counsel who appeared on behalf of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation stated that he would like to take instructions from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation which had filed an FIR against the contemnor and was also conducting the sealing operations. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, Sealing In Re; 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1615, order dated 19-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta JJ., ordered to resume with the sealing of illegal structures in Delhi by modifying the show cause period to 48 hours from 7 days.

The sealing drive was said to be obstructed by Mukesh Suryan the Najafgarh Zone Committee chairman who was alleged to interfere and prevent the sealing drive by civic authorities under the supervision of the Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee.

A prominent development that has been incorporated in the office memorandum which was issued on May 23rd by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs which states that the builder, contractor and architect of illegal structures be not only penalised but also blacklisted for any future work.

The Supreme Court also directed the Delhi police to provide adequate protection to officials being engaged in the sealing drive.

[Source: The Times of India]