The Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 4, 2019, in the case of Navpreet Kaur and another v. State of Punjab and others has observed that regardless of solemnization of an invalid or void marriage or even the absence of any marriage between the parties, the married couple is entitled to seek protection of their life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The observation was made by single judge bench of Justice Arun Monga while hearing a petition filed by the petitioners seeking police protection.
It was the case of the petitioners that they are in love and got married as per the Hindu Rites and Ceremonies on 30.09.2019 at Panchkula. Petitioner No.1, the girl was born on 21.08.2001 and petitioner No.2, the boy was born on 17.09.1999, though a major, but not of marriageable age.
As per the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, one of the essential conditions of marriage is that the bridegroom needs to be above 21 years and the bride needs to be above 18 years.
The couple approached the High Court alleging that the parents of the girl threatened them that they will not allow them to live as husband and wife and on finding an occasion they will kill both of them.
The court while considering the case observed that the mere fact that the boy is not of marriageable age would not deprive the couple of their fundamental right as envisaged in Constitution of India, being citizens of India.
It said that “A perusal of Section 5, ibid leaves no manner of doubt that one of the essential conditions of Hindu Marriage Act is that the bridegroom must be above 21 years and the bride above 18 years. However, at the same time, Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act which declares certain marriages, which are in contravention of Section 5 (supra), to be void, but precludes a marriage solemnized in contravention of Sub Section (iii) of Section 5, ibid from the purview of being regarded as void or invalid.”
In the order directing the police to look into the threat perception and to provide necessary protection qua their life and liberty, if deemed fit, the court said that “The issue in hand, however, is not marriage of the petitioners, but the deprivation of fundamental right of seeking protection of life and liberty. 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 solemnization of an invalid or void marriage or even the absence of any marriage between the parties. It is the bounden duty of the State as per the Constitutional obligations casted upon it to protect the life and liberty of every citizen. Right to human life is to be treated on much higher pedestal, regardless of a citizen being minor or a major.”