JUSTICE S N Dhingra's lambasting of the Delhi police for their failure to protect young people who marry against their parents' wishes or elope is very much in order. He is right to observe that our policemen often look the other way when young couples are hounded, even killed, by backward- minded guardians in the name of family honour.
The case Justice Dhingra was hearing is a case in point. A girl had run away from home and had sought protection of the court against her parents who she feared would kill her were they to know that she was pregnant.
The man she had eloped with is in jail on charges of rape filed by the girl's family on the alleged ground that the girl was a minor.
The same policemen, who shoo away hapless poor people who want a case registered for a crime, promptly arrested the boy without even verifying if the girl was a minor. Incidentally, the Delhi Legal Service Authority which is fighting the girl's case has medical records to prove the girl is above the age of 17.
This is not a one- off case. It is quite common to hear of boys who run away with a girl being locked up by the police on rape charges while the girl's family wreaks vengeance on her. That policemen often connive with the girl's family in such cases was evident in the Manoj- Babli case of 2007 where cops entrusted with protecting the couple leaked their whereabouts, leading to their murder.
Clearly, most of our policemen harbour the same prejudices that push people to kill for " honour". Someone has to tell them that the law has a different take on this issue, and that they are custodians of the law.