Punjab and Haryana high court Adult male under 21 cant marry but can live with consenting partners

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday observed that merely because the adult boy is not of marriageable age, it would not deprive the young couple of their fundamental right as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.  Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill was adjudicating upon a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution wherein the petitioners (young couple) had sought police protection against their parents who had objected to their live-in relationship. Petitioner No. 2 (boy) although a major, had not yet attained marriageable age which is why the parents had been issuing threats to the couple. The judge directed the Gurdaspur SSP to take a decision on the couple’s December 7 request and grant protection to them, if any threat to their life and liberty is perceived. The HC made the observation while hearing a plea for protection by a couple in a live-in relationship from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. Both are above 18 years — the age a woman attains adulthood and can get married. Men also lawfully become adults at 18, but cannot marry before 21 in accordance with the Hindu Marriage Act. The couple approached the HC for protection, alleging threats from their families over their relationship. Their counsel said they feared that their families might murder them. "It is the bounden duty of the state as per the constitutional obligations cast upon it to protect the life and liberty of every citizen. The mere fact that the petitioner No. 2 (man) was not of marriageable age would not deprive the petitioners of their fundamental right as envisaged in the Constitution, being citizens of India," Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill said. "Article 21 of the Constitution stipulates protection of life and liberty to every citizen and that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law," the Court said. It directed the SSP to decide the representation moved by the petitioners, in accordance with law, and grant protection to them against threats to their life and liberty. "It is made clear that this order shall not be taken to protect the petitioners from legal action for violation of law if any are committed by them," the Court clarified.