By LE Desk

Chandigarh, March 11: Couples tying the knot after parting ways with their families will soon get shelter and legal aid at their doorstep. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that safe houses were required to be made available to runaway couples in each district of Punjab and Haryana, along with the UT of Chandigarh.

Justice Avneesh 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 help desks for the couples with telephone service and Internet connectivity at the local level, The Tribune reported.

The directions come at a time when the High Court is flooded with petitions seeking protection of life and liberty from such couples. Rough estimates suggest 70 per cent of the petitions being taken during the current period of restrictive functioning following the Covid outbreak are filed by couples in live-in relationships or getting married against family wishes.

Justice Jhingan added a website or an online module was required to be provided for the couples to raise grievances without being physically present, in addition to round-the-clock helpdesk at the tehsil-level by the LSA for filing representations directly or through someone. An existing cell in the Police Department could be dedicated, or a new one created, for dealing with the representation within 48 hours.

“The entire endeavour 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 trouble to approach this court alleging infringement of the rights,” Justice Jhingan asserted.

Considering the “volume of such petitions”, Justice Jhingan also asked

Punjab and Haryana Advocate Generals Atul Nanda and BR Mahajan, respectively, along with UT senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain, and LSA member-secretaries, to be present for discussion and suggestion.

Justice Jhingan asked them to give inputs for dealing with the issue. The Additional Chief Secretaries (Home) and Director Generals of Police of both the states were also asked to provide full assistance and co-operation. Justice Jhingan also called for a report in March last week.

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