Read Order: SUJATA v. STATE OF PUNJAB 

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 29, 2021: Coming to the rescue of a minor girl, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted her interim bail after she along with her live-in partner were booked for fraud last month. The case was filed after the police found during investigation that the male partner was already married and the couple had concealed the fact while seeking police protection from the high court last year. 

The fact about the male partner’s marital status came to the notice of both the High Court and the police after the girl’s mother moved a criminal application in response to the HC’s police protection to the couple in December last year. The girl’s mother claimed that her daughter’s male partner was a married person having a living spouse and, therefore, the claim of live-in-relationship was apparently false. 

The High Court then disposed of the said application with a direction to S.S.P., Gurdaspur to look into the grievances of the applicant. Thereafter, the police conducted an inquiry and registered an FIR under sections 420, 198, 199, 200, 120-B of the IPC at Police Station Dinanagar, District Gurdaspur. 

The couple also filed another petition for police protection that it withdrew later, but concealed the fact of the man’s marriage when the High Court had granted them protection. 

In response to the FIR, the girl’s counsel told the HC that she was not aware about the marriage of the co-accused when she filed the aforesaid two successive petitions for protection on the basis of the live-in-relationship, as she has filed separate affidavit in both the petitions.

The State counsel, on the other hand, submitted that after conducting a proper inquiry, the present FIR was registered as it was found that a fraud was played. He also submitted that since the mother of the petitioner has stated that the petitioner was enticed away by co-accused Gaurav, the petitioner may be directed to join investigation. 

Deciding the matter, the bench of Justice Arvind Sangwan stated that “in view of the judicial pronouncements by the Supreme Court, this Court, while exercising the powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. or Articles 226/227 of the Constitution, is bound to protect the life and liberty of the citizens, however, the Court is also the guardian of the minor girls or the girls of tender age, who may be enticed away by a male person due to infatuation of tender age and without knowing the consequences of filing a petition based on live-in-relationship.” 

The High Court held that the petitioner girl is directed to appear before the Investigating Officer within a period of 10 days from the date of order (July 27) and in the event of arrest, the petitioner be released on interim bail subject to furnishing personal bonds and surety to the satisfaction of Investigating Officer. 

“However, the petitioner shall join the investigation as and when called upon to do so and shall abide by the conditions as provided under  Section 438 (2) Cr.P.C.  The Investigating Officer will produce the petitioner before the Illaqua Magistrate, who will record her statement and submit a report to this Court if she wants to stay with her parents and whether she was aware that co-accused (her male partner) is a married person, a fact which was concealed,” the HC said.

It further said that it will also be open for the complainant (mother) to appear before the Illaqua Magistrate for recording of her statement as well.  

“In the meantime, S.S.P., Gurdaspur is directed to ensure the arrest of co-accused male partner before the next date of hearing that is August 29. The SHO concerned shall inform the complainant/mother of the petitioner about this order as well as the next date of hearing,” held the High Court. 

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