The Punjab and Haryana High Court, on a petition (Farzana Begam @ Aman And Another V. State of Punjab And Others) filed by a young couple, reiterated that validity/invalidity of marriage between the petitioners should not be a ground to deny protection to their life and liberty.
The matter was heard by a single-member bench of the court comprising Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri through video conferencing.
The petitioners in the case are 21-year-old women and her 22-year-old husband. The petitioners approached the High Court with a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Advocate Bhavna Grewal appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the petitioners had married out of free consent and the women out of her will had converted to Hinduism for the marriage. It was also submitted that the relatives of the women are hostile towards the newly married couple, and the petitioners are worried for their life.
The counsel argued that since the petition relates to the protection of life, the validity of the marriage need not be considered. The counsel relied on the judgement of Division Bench of the High Court in Rajwinder Kaur and another Vs. State of Punjab and others argue that even if the marriage between the parties is invalid, protection of the fundamental rights under Article 21 is to be given.
After hearing the petitioner, the court issued notices to the respondents, which was accepted by the Additional Advocate General, Sidakmeet Sandhu. The Additional Advocate General submitted that the State had no objection to providing protection to the petitioners in accordance with the law.
The court observed that:
“The scope of the present petition is only regarding the protection of life and liberty of the petitioners and, therefore, the validity of the marriage cannot be a ground for denial of such protection.”
The court issued direction to the Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar, to look into the petitioner's representation and provide protection if it is found necessary.
However, the court also made it clear that the directions are based on the need for protection of life and liberty and the question of the validity of the marriage is not considered.
The High Court has seen several petitions from couples who had eloped and married seeking protection from their relatives. The court had on previous occasions asked the lower courts to decide on such petitions so as not to burden the High Court. The State has also initiated special mechanisms to ensure that couples are given protection within 48 hours of receiving a complaint. A dedicated online portal has also been set up for registering complaints.