A writ petition sought directions to the Punjab government to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners who had recently solemnised marriage against the wishes of their parents.
To protect the life and liberty of couples who have married against the wishes of their family, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has suggested that safe houses be made available in each district of Punjab, Haryana as well as the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
In a writ petition that sought issuance of directions to the Punjab government to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners who had recently solemnised marriage against the wishes of their parents, Justice Avneesh Jhingan, in an interim order, pointed out that a “number of such petitions are being filed by the couples who performed marriage against the wishes of their parents and relatives. This court is also being approached by couples stating to be in a live-in relationship… Over a period, the experience is that a number of such petitions are filed as a matter of routine. ..The net result is that petitions involving real, serious and eminent threats get mixed up with the numerous other petitions. There is another aspect of the matter. The couples who are apprehending threat have to travel all the way to this court for completing the formalities for filing the writ petition. This further exposes them to threat.”
Considering the fact that in these cases time was of the essence, the court suggested that one way to tackle the problem was that safe houses be made available in each district of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. “A website or an on-line module should be provided for such couples to raise their grievances without being physically present. Providing of 24×7 help desk at Tehsil level for filing of such representations by aggrieved persons or through someone can be of great help. An existing cell in the police department can be deputed or a new cell can be created which can deal with the representation in a time-bound manner, in any case not beyond 48 hours. It can also be ensured by authorities that in case a request is made by the couples during the period of consideration of the representation, they be provided shelter in safe house,” said the court.
The court added the Legal Services Authorities with the passage of time had been able to reach to the grassroot level. “The entire endeavour of the exercise is that some sort of workable mechanism is put in motion to ensure the protection of life and personal liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Further that only in exceptional cases, the couples have to take trouble to approach this court alleging infringement of the rights,” the court said.