THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court said the protection of life and personal liberty stands on a much higher pedestal and the fundamental right under Article 21 of a couple must be protected regardless of solemnisation of an invalid or void marriage and even in absence of any marriage between them.
The observation was made in a runaway couple’s case where the boy was not of legally marriageable age. The couple got married in Panchkula on September 30. The girl is 18 years and one-month-old but the boy is only of 20 years age. According to the Hindu Marriage Act, the legal age of marriage for a boy is 21. The girl’s family was against the marriage and threatened to kill the couple, as per their petition.
“I have no hesitation to hold that constitutional fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India stands on a much higher pedestal. Being sacrosanct under the Constitutional Scheme it must be protected, regardless of the solemnisation of an invalid or void marriage or even the absence of any marriage between the parties,” said Justice Arun Monga in an order while directing SSP Mohali to provide necessary protection to the couple after verifying their threat perception.
“I am of the view that every citizen being entitled to enforcement of fundamental rights as envisaged under Constitution of India, would necessarily entail grant of appropriate protection to the petitioners herein qua their life and liberty as apprehended by them for the reasons stated hereinafter,” the order read.
The single judge said it is conscious of the fact that the boy is not of marriageable age and the marriage is in violation of the law but added, “The mere fact that the petitioner No 2 (boy) is not of marriageable age in the present case would not deprive the petitioners of their fundamental right as envisaged in Constitution.”
The order comes days after a different single bench of the High Court declined a live-in couple’s plea for protection from threats after it was informed that the woman, to live with her partner, had abandoned her matrimonial home and left behind her two minor children. “This court, under no circumstances can approve of such conduct at the hands of the petitioners,” that case’s order read.