June 14, 2021 2:39:35 am
DISMISSING A protection plea of a live-in couple — wherein the girl is a minor (aged 14) and the man, aged 20, is accused of kidnapping — the Punjab and Haryana High Court has instructed the states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to the consider the marriage of a child as ‘void ab initio’ (invalid from the outset), to eradicate menace of child marriage.
The petitioner couple, through counsel Lupil Gupta, contended that they have known each other for a year, and with the passage of time fell in love, but the minor’s parents were opposed their relationship. Moreover, the minor’s parents were making arrangements to solemnise her marriage with a match of their choice. Upon learning about the same, the minor requested them not to do so, but the parents remained adamant about their decision. The minor then left her home, and she and the 20-year-old man decided to live together till they attain a marriageable age. The counsel further submitted that till date, there has been no physical intimacy between the petitioners as they are waiting to attain the statutory marriageable age, and therefore, the respondents have no right to interfere in their lives.
The Haryana state counsel in reply stated that the minor was removed from the lawful custody of her natural guardians by the youth, and on the basis of the complaint filed by her father, a case under sections of kidnapping and criminal conspiracy already stands registered against the youth and others in Rajasthan.
Justice Manoj Bajaj, after hearing the matter, said, “Society, for the last few years, has been experiencing profound changes in social values, especially amongst exuberant youngsters, who seldom in pursuit of absolute freedom, leave the company of their parents etc. to live with the person of their choice, and…to get the seal of the court to their alliance, they file petitions for protection by posing threat to their life and liberty. Such petitions are ordinarily based on the sole ground of apprehension of threat predicted against the disapproving parents or other close relatives of the girl only, as the decision of the couple is rarely opposed by the family members of the boy. Their right to live together is either based on their sudden, secretive and small destination marriage or upon live-in-relationship. Of course, the aggrieved persons can avail the alternative remedy, but a large number of petitions land in the lap of this court as according to writ petitions, alternative remedy is less felicitous. Majority of such petitions contain formal symbolic averments, grounds with imaginary cause of action, and are rarely founded upon ‘actual’ or ‘real’ existence of threat, and these types of cases consume considerable time of this court, that too at the cost of many other cases waiting in line for hearing.”
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