It Is Necessary To Remind States To Eradicate Child Marriage Menace: Punjab & Haryana High Court
Hearing the protection plea of the petitioners, who are yet to attain the marriageable age, the Punjab & Haryana High Court recently declined to provide them protection, and the writ petition was dismissed while noting that that the issue to eradicate child marriage menace needs to be considered by the State.The Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj was hearing the plea of one Daya Ram...
Hearing the protection plea of the petitioners, who are yet to attain the marriageable age, the Punjab & Haryana High Court recently declined to provide them protection, and the writ petition was dismissed while noting that that the issue to eradicate child marriage menace needs to be considered by the State.
The Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj was hearing the plea of one Daya Ram born [petitioner No.1/20 years and 2 months old] and Reenu [petitioner No.2/14 years and 8 months old], who claimed that they knew each other for the last one year and with the passage of time fell in love, but the parents of Reenu opposed their relationship.
They submitted that the girl left her house on June 1, 2021, and contacted the Boy and decided to reside together in a live-in-relationship till they attain the marriageable age.
Apprehended that the parents of the Girl would not spare them as they received continuous threats, they sent a representation to the Superintendent of Police, Sirsa which failed to evoke any response from the official respondents, as to date no protection has been provided, therefore, the petitioners approached the court for issuance of necessary directions.
At the outset, the Court stressed that the Girl/Reenu is only 14 years and 8 months old is a minor.
Further, referring to Independent Thought Versus Union of India and another, (2017) 10 Supreme Court Cases 800, the Court noted that the adverse effects of child marriage were analyzed in-depth by the Supreme Court.
In Independent Thought matter, the Supreme Court had observed thus:
"In effect therefore the practice of early marriage or child marriage even if sanctified by tradition and custom may yet be an undesirable practice today with increasing awareness and knowledge of its detrimental effects and the detrimental effects of early pregnancy. Should this traditional practice still continue? We do not think so and the sooner it is given up, it would be in the best interest of the girl child and for society as a whole"
Further, looking at the facts of the case, the Court observed that merely because the two adults are living together for few days, their claim of live-in-relationship based upon bald averment may not be enough to hold that they are truly in live-in-relationship.
About the Boy, the Court noted that he was representing the Girl, claiming himself to be the next friend of minor and as per averments in the writ petition, entire blame had been put upon the natural guardians of the minor girl to set up compelling circumstances for her to voluntarily leave the house of parents, in order to join the Boy (Petitioner number 1)
Further, the Court observed that that the Boy is already accused of kidnapping the minor daughter of respondent No.5, therefore, the Court added:
"His stand-to claim himself as lawful representative of minor girl is not worth acceptance...Strangely, petitioner No.1 has not explained why the minor girl after leaving the house did not make any complaint either to the police against her parents or contacted any other close relative to resolve her differences with the parents."
"Thus, it is apparent that the present petition has been filed hastily by petitioner No.1 to put up a defence to the above FIR registered at the instance of respondent No.5," added the Court.
Lastly, the Court directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Sirsa to depute a responsible police officer to ensure that the custody of the minor girl is restored to her parents after coordinating with the State of Rajasthan police.
Before parting, the Court also opined that despite the penal provisions are in place through the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, but child marriages are taking place in violation of the provisions of the said Act.
Case Title - Daya Ram & another v. State of Haryana & others