Justice Rajiv Narain Raina of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that over the years, a “cottage industry” has grown around petitions filed by lawyers to seek protection for runaway couples, calling it the “most demeaning childlike work” which HC judges have been “forcibly tasked with” by the “ingenious Bar”.
Justice Raina in a judicial order said that a solution needs to be devised to “cast the burden” on some other alternative mechanism of redressal, including amending the law and conferring the power to deal with such petitions on the subordinate judiciary.
“This is just a suggestion to unburden the court from this litigation. It is for the legislature to find solutions, if required or deemed expedient,” reads the order passed in the case of a runaway couple.
The HC, each day, usually hears 30-40 petitions of runaway couples — who have married against the wishes of their families — for protection against the threats to their lives. Most of the time, such petitions are disposed of with a direction to police to protect the couple if required since the petitions are based on Article 21.
“…Only a simple direction is sought and mechanically issued based upon Article 21 of the Constitution to save young couples from distress and apprehended physical harm from angry parents and their families opposing the marriage,” reads the order.
Observing that it is no pleasure to deal with such petitions which come at the financial expense of the runaway couples, who “actually” believe that they will get a marriage certificate from the HC, Justice Raina said the high court was not built or meant for this “parasitical” non-litigation.
“This practice deserves to be curtailed as it is a big burden and drain on the resources of the high court and its staff from the filing stage to uploading the order,” Justice Raina said in the order.
Meanwhile, the bench has directed the HC registry to ensure that photographs are not attached with the protection petitions unless there is an affidavit of the counsel that they are necessary for understanding of the case. “The registry will stop entertaining any annexures containing photographs of couples as evidence of proof of marriage and demand an affidavit of necessity, explaining the purpose they are important to the prayer, from the counsel [but not the petitioners] because lawyers advise clients of steps to be taken for presentation of petitions,” the order reads.
The court said it is only concerned about the identity of the petitioners in cases for which Aadhaar cards or any other official documents and passport-size photos of the couple would be sufficient.