Read Order: Jyoti and another v. State of Punjab and others
Chandigarh, July 28, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court restrained itself from initiating contempt proceedings against a petitioner, who had claimed that she was 19 years old, upon finding that she has not yet attained adulthood.
The case pertained to a young couple who had sought protection of their life and liberty fearing a threat to the same from their family members, against whose wishes they had got married.
There was no firm proof of the age of either of the two petitioners other than their Aadhar cards, which is not considered a firm proof of age.
The state counsel apprised the high court that the petitioner no. 1 (female partner) is actually less than 18 years of age against her claim in the petition that she was 19.
The bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh said that the petitioners would be liable to ‘contempt proceedings’ as also possibly proceedings under provisions of Section 340 of the Cr.P.C., for wilfully misrepresenting before the court. However, the bench said such action would not be taken considering their young age.
The bench then ordered that their plea be dismissed as withdrawn by the petitioners.
In the plea, petitioner no.1 was shown to be 19 years of age and it was considered appropriate to try and determine her age in order to find out if there was any violation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
Consequently, the SHO, Police Station Qadian, District Gurdaspur, was ordered to be impleaded and further the court sought reply from the state.
In the resumed hearing of the case on July 23, the State counsel determined that petitioner no. 1 is actually less than 18 years of age, as per his instructions from Harkrishan, DSP.
Therefore, the counsel for the petitioners at the outset submitted that the petitioners wish to withdraw the petition.
In its order, the bench stated, “Though otherwise, if the age is verified to be less than 18 years of age, the petitioners would also be liable to ‘contempt proceedings’ as also possibly proceedings under the provisions of Section 340 of the Cr.P.C., for wilfully misrepresenting before this court, yet, looking at their age, that action is not being taken, with this petition therefore ordered to be dismissed as withdrawn.”
The bench further said, “but with it made absolutely clear that if, upon proper verification from the school that petitioner no. 1 last attended, her age is actually found to be less than 18 years of age, protection of life and liberty ordered by this court shall not prohibit any proceedings under the provisions of the Prohibition of the Child Marriage Act, 2006, offences punishable under that Act being cognizable offences in terms of Section 15 thereof.”
“With the aforesaid observations, as noticed above, this petition is ordered to be dismissed as withdrawn, but with obviously the life of the petitioners to be duly protected; and as regards liberty, it would be protected as per law,” the high court held.