The Punjab and Haryana High Court has on Wednesday made it clear that safe houses were required to be made available to the runaway couples in each district of Punjab and Haryana, along with the UT of Chandigarh.
While expressing its concern over the enormous number of protection petitions being filed before it by runaway and inter-faith couples, the single-judge bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan stated that the genuine cases of threat are often overlooked amid a pile of cases that are filed on a daily basis. The court further suggested several steps to make the executive responsible for offering protection to the lives of such couples, so that burden on the Courts is reduced.
Justice Jhingan has also made it clear that the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) in the two states and UT were required to set up 24×7 helpdesks for the couples with telephone service and Internet connectivity at the local level.
Petitions Before The HC
The directions come at a time when the High Court is flooded with petitions from runaway couples, seeking protection of life and liberty. As per sources, around 70% of the petitions being taken up during the current period are filed by couples in a live-in relationship or performing marriage against family wishes.
As the State Counsels gave positive responses to the above suggestions, the Court directed the Advocate Generals of both the States, Senior Standing Counsel for Union Territory, Chandigarh, and Member Secretaries of the Legal Services Authorities to make a joint effort for dealing with the issue mentioned above.
“The entire endeavor 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 the trouble to approach this court alleging infringement of the rights,” Justice Jhingan asserted.
The bench further observed that the petitions of such nature are either disposed of, without commenting on the validity of the marriage and directing the official respondents to consider the representation or notice of motion is issued to the official respondents.