IN A protection plea of a live-in couple where the girl is just 16-and-a-half-years old, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that it was not for the court to introduce personal ideas on morality or engage in social norms.
The court has directed police to protect the couple from threats. The High Court, while acknowledging that the marriage of a minor is not legal as per the Hindu Marriage Act, said since the marriage between the two is yet to be solemnised, only their life and freedom were involved in the case.
“It is not for this court in a protection petition to engage itself in social mores, norms and human behaviour or introduce personal ideas on morality,” Justice Rajiv Narain Raina observed, adding that since the plea was based on Article 21 – right to life and personal liberty – it calls for immediate attention of the police.
The teenager had last month fled from home in Gurdaspur after her parents allegedly wanted her to marry a divorcee. She and her 21-year-old boyfriend from Punjab’s Pathankot district have been in a relationship for the past two years and are currently staying in Chandigarh.
Counsel for the couple, advocate Dhawaljeet Dutta, said the girl’s parents wanted her to marry a 35-year-old man, who is a divorcee. “The girl’s parents had earlier performed her roka ceremony with some boy which could not be finalised and now again, they are trying to force her into marrying a divorcee, who is much older than the girl,” said Dutta.
The HC bench has asked the couple to contact the Gurdaspur Senior Superintendent of Police and directed the SSP to personally look into the matter and “offer help, which is consistent with their safety”. “With these directions, the instant petition is disposed of without expressing any opinion on the status of petitioners in society,” said Justice Raina in the final order.
The couple, in their petition before the High Court, said they have been taking shelter at different places since last month because they apprehend danger from the girl’s parents and two uncles. The girl had also approached the police earlier and written a letter to the SHO of the police station in her village and the Gurdaspur SSP, seeking protection.
The girl told police that she had left her parental home on her own and does not want to marry the divorcee. “My family members are threatening to eliminate me if I do not marry someone of their choice. I have requested my parents not to get me married to the said man but they are adamant about me marrying him and they used to beat me up every day while putting pressure on me to marry,” she has written in the letter.