Runaway couples: Can't allow moral policing by public, rules Punjab and Haryana High Court : The Tribune India

Runaway couples: Can't allow moral policing by public, rules Punjab and Haryana High Court

Protection can’t be denied even if one of the partners is ‘married’

Runaway couples: Can't allow moral policing by public, rules Punjab and Haryana High Court

Making it clear that protection could not be denied to a runaway couple even if one of the partners was alleged to be already married, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that individual autonomy could not be hampered by societal expectations in a vibrant democracy. - File photo

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, May 4

Making it clear that protection could not be denied to a runaway couple even if one of the partners was alleged to be already married, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that individual autonomy could not be hampered by societal expectations in a vibrant democracy. Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj made it clear that moral policing by the public at large could neither be allowed nor forgiven. It could also not be allowed to dictate the state’s actions.

Justice Bhardwaj ruled that protection of life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 could not be denied to a citizen merely because he happened to commit an offence punishable under the IPC. “Every citizen of the country is entitled to protection of his life and liberty under the Constitution, even though he may be a hardened criminal or may have committed any offence,” Justice Bhardwaj added.

He asserted, “When the right to life and liberty is even guaranteed to convicted criminals of serious offences, there can be no reasonable nexus to not grant the same protection to those in a legal or illegal relationships.”

The couple had moved the court seeking protection after claiming marriage against the parents’ wishes on April 21. The respondent-kin told the Bench that the petitioners’ had described their marriage as first, but the girl was married earlier on February 25. Referring to the Kasab case, Justice Bhardwaj asserted the apex court exemplified the significance of “rule of law” in the country. The dreaded terrorist, even after being caught red-handed, was not deprived of his life and right to a free and fair trial until after sentencing.

Justice Bhardwaj added the apex court had ruled that miniscule emphasis was to be given to public morality, when in conflict with constitutional morality. The courts were required to uphold constitutional morality and rely on the same, rather than obscure notions of societal morality having no legal tenability.

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