Read Order: Sukhchain and another v. State of Haryana and others 

LE Correspondent 

Chandigarh, July 21, 2021: Coming to the rescue of a young couple facing threats from their families, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that being adults they are entitled to live together and also to protection of their life and liberty. 

The petitioner couple, claiming that they are aged around 19 and 20 years respectively, are living together. The male partner has not yet attained the minimum marriageable age of 21 years and they will solemnize marriage as and when he attains the marriageable age, the duo submitted before the court. 

Their plea said their relationship is not acceptable to the woman’s parents and both of them apprehend that there is danger to their lives and liberty. They claimed that they made a representation in this regard on July 19, 2021 to the SSP, Sonepat but no action has been taken on the same. 

Therefore, appropriate direction may be given for protection of life and liberty of the petitioners, the plea said.

Referring to the Supreme Court order in Nandakumar and another Vs. State of Kerala and others, the bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi stated that Thushara, admittedly aged 19 years, solemnized marriage with Nandakumar, who was less then 21 years of age. Thushara’s father filed a habeas corpus petition which was allowed by the Kerala High Court on the grounds that Nandakumar was not of marriageable age, Thushara was not his legally wedded wife and apart from the photographs produced in the High Curt, there was no evidence to solemnization of valid marriage between them. The Kerala High Curt thus gave the custody of Thushara to her father. 

On appeal the Supreme Court set aside the order of the Kerala High Court and held that Thushara and Nandakumar being major had a right to live together even outside wedlock in a live-in relationship. 

Justice Tyagi also cited the Supreme Court’s another order in Soni Gerry Vs. Gerry Douglas where the daughter, who was major, expressed her desire to reside with her father in Kuwait, where she was pursuing her education. The Supreme Court dismissed the habeas corpus petition filed by her mother, holding that the daughter being major was entitled to exercise her choice.

In that case the Supreme Court observed that there needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual’s life has its own significance. She/He is entitled to make her/his choice.

The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae. The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father, the top court had held. 

The bench of Justice Tyagi stated that the observations in the above referred judgments are fully applicable to the facts of the present case.

“In the present case both the petitioners are major and are entitled to live together in live-in-relationship and are also entitled to protection of their life and liberty against any harm from their family members.  In view of the above discussion, the petition is disposed of with direction to respondent No.2 – Senior Superintendent of Police, Sonepat to look into the grievances of the petitioners as set out in the petition and also expressed in the representation dated 19.07.2021 and take appropriate action for protection of their life and liberty as may be warranted by the circumstances,” said the high court. 

“The Registry of this Court is directed to send a copy of this order along with copy of the petition and above-said representation to respondent No.2-Senior Superintendent of Police, Sonepat for requisite compliance,” the high court held. 

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