MARRIED COUPLE CANNOT BE DEPRIVED OF LIFE AND LIBERTY
BY- JAYA SINGH
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has decided that Married Couple even if it is case of invalid or void marriage cannot be deprived of the fundamental right of seeking protection of Life and Liberty.
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, 1995, one of the essential conditions of marriage is that the bridegroom needs to be above 21 years and the bride needs to be 18 years or above of age. Petitioners state that their marriage was accepted by family of petitioner No. 2 happily. They also informed the parents of petitioner No. 1 about their marriage telephonically and requested them to accept the marriage, on which respondents No. 4 to 7 got angry. 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. Parents of petitioner No. 1 also threatened the petitioners to involve them in some false criminal case.
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 o seek protection of their life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The said observation was made by single judge bench of Justice Arun Monga while hearing a petition filed by the petitioners seeking police protection.
- The petitioners approached respondent No. 2 (Senior Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mohali) and submitted a representation dated 30.09.2019 seeking to safeguard their life and liberty, but no action is taken on the same.
- The petitioners are living in constant danger as they have every apprehension that private respondents will catch them and carry out their threats. They are running here and there and unable to find any safe place to live in the absence of protection of their life and liberty.
- The boy is not of marriageable age even though he is major. Their marriage, therefore, even if assumed to have taken place according to Hindu Rites is in violation of Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act. A perusal of Section 5, ibid leaves no manner of doubt that one of the essentials of Hindu Marriage Act. However, at the same time, Section 11 of the HMA which declares certain marriages, which are in contravention of Section 5, 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 light of Jitendra Kumar Sharma Vs. State and Another reported as 2001 (7) AD (Delhi) 785, where justice was rendered by Delhi High Court, it appears from the documents appended that the petitioners have not solemnized a valid marriage and maybe required to satisfy the validity of their marriage.
- The issue in the case is not about the validity of the marriage but the deprivation of fundamental right of seeking protection of life and liberty.
- The mere fact that the petitioner No. 2 is not of marriageable age in the present case would not deprive the petitioners of their fundamental rights as envisaged in Constitution of India, being citizens of India.
- The Senior Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mohali is directed to verify the contents of the petition particularly the threat perception of the petitioners and thereafter provide necessary protection qua their life and liberty, if deemed fit.
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Married Couple cannot be denied from seeking protection of Life and Liberty merely because marriage is void or invalid. Constitutional Fundamental Right under Article 21of 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 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 a much higher pedestal, regardless of a citizen being minor or a major.