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Is it legal for unmarried couples to stay in a hotel in India?

Since the past few decades, India, as a country and as a society is rapidly marching towards modernization. We have witnessed a radical shift in our lifestyle, attitude, and point of view toward different aspects which touch our daily lives. Without any doubt, such changes have helped us become more accepting and open-minded about several things in our society.

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We Indians are culturally drawn, whether it is celebrating our festivals, following our traditions or various auspicious rituals. But one thing that remains unchanged is that that love is still bound by many dos and don'ts and love yet is chained in the boundaries created by the keepers of the society. There are restrictions that we have cultivated over centuries. Couples walking hand in hands, or spending some special time in parks is generally frowned upon. These couples, very much in love generally find it difficult to get some privacy and spend some quality time together. In order to seek some privacy, if an innocent unmarried couple goes ahead and books a hotel room for a few hours, they are viewed suspiciously and questioned by the unwelcoming hotel authorities. Also, the local police get involved many a time and adorn the hat of “moral police” and create additional ruckus.

So the issue of privacy for unmarried couples is not just restricted to parks and gardens but also extends to finding a good hotel room to stay for a few hours. In spite of the countless number of hotels, resorts and retiring rooms in India, most of them do not allow unmarried couples to rent a room. Not finding space for some privacy is definitely annoying and frustrating. A hotel room is certainly a wise option to spend some special moments together, the plans for which are interrupted during the check-in itself, under the pretext of laws.

All the lectures on the rights and wrongs in this scenario makes you automatically believe that it is “illegal” for a married couple to stay together. The big surprise here is NO. It is a blatant lie when hoteliers tell you that the law does not permit them to rent out rooms to unmarried couples. The Supreme Court of India nowhere states that it is illegal for unmarried couples to book a hotel room. Not a single law mentions anywhere that an unmarried couple cannot stay together in a hotel. Judges and senior lawyers have openly clarified that there is no such Act or Clause in the Indian Constitution which prohibits hotels, lodges, homestays from giving rooms to unmarried couples. The reality is that not giving a room to unmarried couples is, in fact, a violation of their fundamental rights.

An incident that was brought to light by News Minute, a leading news portal was when a group of six students from Pune, four boys and two girls, set out to tour Kerala, they didn't have any prior hotel booking. When they approached a good hotel, they were denied a room because they fell under the “unmarried couples” category. There are countless other cases like this happening every year in various parts of India, especially in metro cities. Though it is not illegal for unmarried couples to stay together, it is at the discretion of the hotels, to allow or not to allow unmarried couples to stay in their hotel. But it is important to keep in mind that it is not illegal.

Why would hotels do that?

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Hotels deny rooms to unmarried couples because of the fear of being judged and worry about the reputation of the hotel. The police many a time are hand in gloves with the hotel owners and arrest these couples, who are enjoying their private moments behind the closed walls of a hotel room. An incident that made headlines in 2015, was when 40 couples were dragged out of a hotel in Mumbai, by the police because they were unmarried. They were put in jail, and were fined Rs.1200 and their parents were called and given a lecture. Apart from anything else, this is extremely embarrassing for any consenting adult and their families. There are countless such incidents which happen every day and unmarried couples have to bear the brunt. But what those people did not know then is that booking a hotel stay for a few hours to spend some private time with your partner is not illegal at all!

How can you book a hotel if you are an unmarried couple?

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Image Courtesy bonitorooms.com

  1. There are several hotels for unmarried couples in India which rent rooms to couples without hassle. The safe way around these days is to make hotel booking online through various portals. You can also choose to pre book a room on your name for two people when you book a hotel room online. These portals allow you to book the hotel room securely without asking uncomfortable questions.
  2. And the second most important thing is to read the hotel policies carefully. Because some hotels for reasons best known to them do not allow unmarried couples to book a room. It will help you to become alert when selecting the hotel and you can rather book a good hotel which by no means indulges in any kind of trafficking.
  3. Be confident and don't fear when booking a hotel room so that no one can blackmail you or threaten you.
  4. In case you are an unmarried couple and decide to book a hotel room, you must carry your identification proofs with you. You are expected to produce only a valid government id proof at the time of check-in. The hotel authorities will keep a scanned copy of the ID and shall return you the original documents. You should note that while there is no law stating that unmarried couples cannot book a hotel room, however, if you and your partner are under 18 years, you cannot book a room in India. Only genuine couples who are above 18 years old can book a room.

Another important development in this sector is hiring the room on an hourly basis in your city, you will be happy to see a long list popping up. The hotel industry is also warming up to the changing demands of the society. Not only these hotels are good and safe, but also located in prime areas and provide all standard facilities. Whether it is for a few hours or for days, a couple can relax and enjoy themselves without being judged.

In a nutshell, it is okay to stay at any hotel anywhere in India with your partner. There is no law that would prohibit an unmarried couple from staying in any hotel across India. However, remember not to indulge in any illegal or suspicious activities or criminal activities during his/her stay in the hotel, in which case the hotel may inform the police authorities.

With the number of literates increasing in our country, the mindset towards couple shaming is eventually decreasing. But what remains deeply rooted in the value system of our vast nation will definitely take a lot more time to go away completely.