Punjab to give e-assistance to runaway couples

HC wants ‘safe houses’ in each district

Punjab to give e-assistance to runaway couples

Photo for representation only

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26

For runaway couples tying knot with trouble after parting way with their families, help will soon be just a phone-touch away. The State has told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it is making arrangements for providing e-assistance to couples seeking protection. It has also furnished before Justice Avneesh Jhingan’s Bench a blueprint for making safeguards available to them.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda told Justice Jhingan’s Bench that a “new tab” would specifically be created for assistance of the couples seeking protection in the existing state-level grievance redressal portal.

An easy access to the Internet for registering grievances would be provided to them through ‘One-stop Sakhi Centre’ in 22 headquarters. Nanda added a working mechanism was proposed whereby grievances would be forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner within 24 hours of receipt. He, with the help of a committee or the SSP concerned, would assess threat perception within 48 hours and do the needful immediately thereafter.

“The scope of two 24x7 helpline numbers would be expanded to include couples, who apprehend threat due to marrying against the wishes of the parents or society,” Nanda submitted.

Taking a note of the submissions, Justice Jhingan asserted: “If the inputs are implemented in its letter and spirit at the ground level, it would be a great help in such cases…. It is expected that the state of Punjab would go ahead with implementation of the steps suggested in the input report”. Justice Jhingan also directed the forwarding of the copy of the inputs to Haryana Advocate-General Baldev Raj Mahajan and Member Secretary, Haryana State Legal Services Authority, Parmod Goyal.

Justice Jhingan has already made it clear that safe houses were required for the runaway couples in each district of Punjab and Haryana along with the UT of Chandigarh. The HC is flooded with petitions seeking protection from such couples. Rough estimates suggest 70 per cent of the petitions being taken during the current restrictive functioning following the Covid outbreak are filed by couples in a live-in relationship or performing marriage against family wishes.

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