Is it illegal to Stay an Unmarried Couple in a Hotel? 

Its 21st century and we expect it to be Modern and evolving, right? There is a drastic shift in the lifestyle, culture, and even people’s thinking for the past stereotype situation. Especially in the youth of the country. This is followed by the young couples of India(unmarried) as they tend to spend time with each other and enjoy their life in whatever they want. A situation may arise where a couple wants to stay in a hotel for a few hours to some days, the reason may be whatever as long as it is legal. But it is not that simple as we may think. Though Indian society has evolved in the past few decades but there are still problems like social stigma, moral policing, and the reputation of the hotel that are involved while booking a hotel for unmarried couples. So the question for consideration, Is it illegal to stay an unmarried couple in a hotel?

There is no specific law in the Indian Constitution that can deny the consenting unmarried couples entry in the hotels if they produce their valid original ID proof, provided both(boy and girl) should be above the age of 18. ID proof needs to be the address proof issued by the Indian Government, i.e., Aadhaar card, Voter ID, Passport, or Driving license.

The constitution of India provides for freedom of movement Article 19 (1)(d) and also not to be discriminated under Article 15(2). The Hotel Association of India has clarified that booking rooms by unmarried couples is legal. Even after this many good rated hotels have a subtle right to deny such bookings, because they want to maintain who they are, good rated, by avoiding any police raids and keep the name upfront in the industry as they have to operate in a society where moral grounds and social stigma is given more importance than the freedom and lifestyle of some.

But a couple cannot sue or take actions against any hotels on that ground, because they have the Right to admission, accruing to which they can deny the services. Denial can be taken to court only in case of discrimination based on gender, race, creed, caste.

Certain hotels may not facilitate the entry of unmarried couples reason being this awkward situation which some hotel owners do not wish to be in where some hotel businesses have bad records which have been guilty of prostitution and trafficking. This in itself is the biggest lacuna, backed by the plagued judgments of the society we live in, in the virtue of couples and the hotel owners, which is a problem for the couples being in hotels, despite booking rooms by unmarried couples legal in India.

The problem of moral policing can be considered as major lacuna as the police officers whom we can say as upholders of the law, they are involved in promoting this concept. Hotels have been raided for being occupied by unmarried couples without any reasonable explanations by the police and even charging fines for being immoral. This is a ridiculous situation where even the police force does not respect the law of the nation it serves, so the hotel owners are left with no option and be the naysayers (to the couples).“There is no law that prohibits unmarried couples from staying together in hotels. Choosing to stay together is a personal choice and falls under freedom of movement, which cannot be restricted”, says senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam.

While there are some situations where this legality may be questioned, i.e.,

1. If the hotel owners and local police illegally catch up to extract money by harassing a couple of informing their families. And if the booking is done by fake names, this trouble could be big. Most couples would prefer to book hotels above three-star rating as they are not involved in these malpractices and to avoid the possibility of having spy-cameras or detectives.

2.  Booking by an unmarried couple, but both individuals are married to someone else, they can be accused of adultery which can be a robust ground for seeking a divorce. Sharing a room could be presumed to be enough evidence of adultery. Some people hire detectives these days, to prove intimacy by chasing such people discreetly and gather evidence to be proved in the court.

This is not the case in most of the situation but a couple may still face denial by many hotels. It is safe to say that certain things can be done by a couple for a safe and friendly stay.

  • Use online hotel booking Portals and check the policy of that hotel.
  • Make a call to confirm that they have no problem in this regard.
  • Check the review and ratings of the particular hotel.

Some Start-ups like Oyo Rooms and stay uncle have facilitated this process by specifically listing hotels that don’t have a problem in this regard. Though it is a modern society, it will still take more time to root out such stigma from society. Till then it is good to play safe and follow certain procedures before leaving for a journey and confirm everything.

This article has been written by Arpit Jhanwar, a second-year student at Symbiosis Law School Pune.

Read also: Can unmarried girl live-in with married man?

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