Is hotel booking for couples legal in India?

Yesterday Dikshi auntie had a most fantastic guest during our StayUncle’s Facebook live feed.

We’ve had all sorts of guests so far.. Writers, artists, drag queens. social activists.

But never before the audience was so piqued, so interested like now when for the very first time we featured a law practicing student who elaborated on all the legal aspects of booking a hotel for couples in India.

Mohit Agarwal is a law student, has worked with Tis Hazari and is a member of Delhi State Legal Service Authority.

He came to help us debunk all the myths existing around this service such as:

  • Is booking a hotel as a couple legal in India?
  • What is the legal age to book a hotel for couples in India?
  • Can the police raid a hotel and detain couple?
  • Under which circumstances can the police raid a hotel?
  • What are your rights as individual if a police officer bully you as a couple and threatens to call your parents?

Mohit was particularly adamant on stressing the following point – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

Know your rights dear couples. Because they are constitutional and democratic. And democracy is as strong as the number of people who embrace the common rights equally given to us all.

As a couple and an individual there are 3 Articles coming straight from the Indian legal system that you should be always be aware of, which are:

  • Article 15 of the Indian constitution
  • Article 21 of the Indian constitution
  • Section 7 of PITA
  • Section 375 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code)

Below follows brief explanation of how does each one of these guarantee your rights

Article 15 of the Indian constitution (1949): No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, HOTELS and palaces of public entertainment

What does this mean?

It means that if a hotel refuses to provide hospitality services for which it is registered to do, on the basis of discrimination such as religion, you can file a law suite against that hotel.

If the hotel refuses you the services just because you are a Hindu and she is a Muslim, you can file a law suit against that hotel.

This is your fundamental right.

If the hotel refuses its services to you because you are a couple and both of you belong to a different religion or community, you have the right to sue the hotel, because the hotel is breaking the law, not the couple.

Article 21 of the Indian constitution (1949): Protection of life and personal liberty. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

What does this mean?

It means that no one can forbid you to roam around freely anywhere in public areas, alone or with someone else, irrespective of your age. No Bajrang Dal nor anyone else can forbid you as a couple to hang out in a park on the street, in a mall or walking down the road or at any other public property.

Remember – Bajrang Dal’s actions are not justified under any Indian law. Their actions do not have legal basis.

Their source of action is purely based on the grounds of morale.  However the Law is the Law and is equally applicable to anyone irrespective of your individual moral convictions.

Or as we prefer to say here at StayUncle – Keep your morale at home before you go outside.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal code: A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions: against her will; Without her consent, With or Without her consent when she is below 18 years of age (read the rest here).

Why does this mean?

Legal age is the first most important factor when booking a hotel as couple.

Consent as defined in Section 375 of the IPC is the second most important factor.

Failure to assert consent can be dangerous because your act in a hotel or any place else can be categorized as rape and rape is a punishable offense where the police authorities have all the right to intervene.

The fundamental flaw with this article is that it treats as only a woman can be sexually abused, while this is not always the case in reality.

This is however being amended in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act from 2012 (POCSO) where it is rightfully admitted that both men and women can be a victim of sexual offence.

What is the legal age to book a room as couple?

Hotels often mistake the legal age for having sex and the legal age for getting married.

The legal age for having sex in India is 18 years old for both men and women (it was initially 16 years but after the unfortunate incident of the Nirbhaya case in 2012 it got changed into 18 years old).

The legal age for getting married in India is 21 years for men and 18 years for women.

Therefore if a hotelier refuses both of you a room under the assertion that the guy is not yet 21 years old, remind him that hotelier that you are not coming into the hotel to getting married.

Remind the receptionist that 21 years old is the minimum legal age for getting married, not for having sex.

Can the police raid the hotel?

There are certain circumstances under which the police can decide to raid a hotel.

However under no circumstances can the police raid a hotel unless it furnishes a written notice/warrant by higher authorities.

Let us iterate this again – A policeman is not allowed to enter your hotel room unless able to showcase a written warrant by senior authorities.

If they do, they are breaking the law and you should file a law suit against them. Know your rights!

Further on, if such incident still happen you always, always have to have your valid ID proof with you to prove your legal age and consent.

If the police ask for your personal details such as phone number, you are not obliged to provide unless they provide a written notice/warrant. Ask them to do so.

If they refuse to do so and instead threaten to call your parents if you do not cooperate – Know your rights.

Under no law whatsoever they have the right to do so in case both of you are of legal age.

You should immediately stand up and inform them that you are aware about your rights, that you will not furnish your contact number without a warrant and that they have no ground to contact your parents because by showing your original ID proof you have just proved that you both are adults and hence are accountable for your own actions for bullying you.

If the policeman nevertheless insists on having your phone number without having a warrant, warn them that if they don’t desist, you will complain to higher authorities.

How to ensure that your stay as a couple is legal in any hotel?

Ensure that you both are registered inside the hotel’s guest book on the basis of the info provided inside your ID proofs.

If the hotel does not ask your ID proof and does not begin the process of registering you in the guest book after you arrive, make sure that you explicitly ask them to do so, otherwise your stay will be considered illegal and a case of human trafficking.

Do not sign the guest book unless you check and sure that the details entered inside match the details of your ID cards.

To summarize, as a couple make sure you are armed with the following 3 sections of the Indian constitution

  • Article 15 of the Indian constitution which guarantees your right to roam free around public places alone or with another person with no limitations whatsoever
  • Article 21 of the Indian constitution which protects you from discrimination on any basis including religion in your attempt to enjoy public goods such as hotels.
  • Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code which depicts what all can be considered a rape which is a punishable offense

To know even more details, have a look at the video below



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