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High Court Says State Must Provide Safeguards To Runaway Couple Even If They Are Not Married

CHANDIGARH – In a judgment that would change the way protection is provided to runaway couples, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the State was duty-bound to safeguard their life and liberty even without solemnisation of a valid marriage.

The judgment is significant as the Single Judge, before whom the matter was initially placed, had observed that the alleged marriage was totally invalid. The appellants belonged to different religions and the groom had failed to prove that he had embraced the bride’s religion before the marriage.

The Judge had granted the couple the liberty to approach Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police. But the Judge also directed the police to look into the marriage certificate which, according to him, appeared to be false, fabricated and misleading.

Taking up the appeal filed by Rajwinder Kaur and another appellant against the State of Punjab and other respondents, the Division Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Shekher Dhawan asserted: “From the certificates/documents appended by the appellants with the writ petition, it appears that both of them are major, born in the years 1993 and 1994, respectively.

“Even if the appellants did not perform valid marriage, the question that arises for consideration is whether they can be deprived of the protection of their life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution?

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