THE RIGHT to protection of life and liberty stands on a much higher pedestal and must be protected regardless of the validity of a couple’s marriage or even in absence of the marriage between them, the Punjab and Haryana has ruled.
The court was hearing a plea for protection of a woman, aged 26 years and 11 months, who married a youth aged 20 years and 8 months. For men, 21 is the marriageable age in India. The couple were known to each other for many years and decided to marry but parents of the man opposed their marriage and issued threats to kill them both.
Justice Arun Monga in the order said, “I have no hesitation to hold that constitutional fundamental right under Article 21 of 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 valid marriage or even the absence of any marriage between the parties”.
The court in the order noted that it is conscious of the fact that the marriage is in violation of the Section 5 (III) Hindu Marriage Act. However, it added that Section 11, which declares certain marriages to be void, precludes the marriage solemnised in contravention of the provision regarding minimum ages of bride and bridegroom, from the purview of being regarded as void or invalid.
Observing that mere fact that the youth in this case is not of marriageable age would not deprive him of his fundamental right, Justice Monga further said it is the bounden duty of the state as per the constitutional obligations cast upon it to protect the liberty and life of every citizen.
“Right to human life is to be treated on a much higher pedestal, regardless of a citizen being minor or a major,” the court said, while asking Amritsar DSP to verify the threat perception of the couple and provide them necessary protection, if deemed fit.
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