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Lovepreet Kaur v. State of Punjab (2021) - Inter-caste marriages and their non-acceptance

Gnaneshwar Rajan ,
  17 March 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
Punjab & Haryana High Court
Brief :
This case deals with the issue of inter-caste marriages and non-acceptance of the same.
Citation :
REFERENCE: CRWP-2428-2021

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10th March, 2021.

JUDGE: Avneesh Jhingan.

PARTIES: Lovepreet Kaur (Appellant)
State of Punjab (Respondent)

SUMMARY: The present case deals with the issue of inter-caste marriages and the non-acceptance of the same in the Indian society.

OVERVIEW

  1. A writ petition was filed by a couple who married against the wishes of their families, and sought assurance from the Court that no coercive action to be taken against them.
  2. The court took up the petition for hearing and sought issuances of direction to the Punjab government to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners.
  3. The court, while hearing the petition, was of the view that filing of such petitions are, and can be termed as a matter of routine. The court opined that it was evident from most of these petitions that the day the marriage is performed, a representation is made and in some cases even the writ petition is drafted or filed on the same very day.
  4. The court, eventually, took into consideration the idea of safe houses to be made available in order to protect the life and liberty of couples who marry against the wishes of their families.
  5. The court, therefore, ordered the police official not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police to record the statements of the appellants and also to provide them with a safe house if they request for the same.

ISSUE

The following issues were analyzed by the court:

  • Whether protection can be granted to the couples of inter-caste marriages by the court.
  • Whether directions need to be given by the government to address this issue.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGMENT

  1. The appellants in the instant case sought protection for their lives and liberties under the provisions of Art. 21 of the Constitution as they were an inter-caste couple who had married against their families’ wishes. They sought protection from the court as they felt that their lives were in danger.
  2. The court, while hearing the petition, was of the opinion that non-acceptance of inter-caste marriage is a social problem which need to be dealt with at multifarious levels. The court opined further that inter-caste marriage is not the only reason for non-acceptability of marriage, there are numerous other socio-economic reasons acting as hurdles for young couples for selecting life partner of their choice.
  3. During the hearing, the court laid out suggestions such as safe houses for protection of such couples, a website or an online module, creation of a new cell by the police department, or at least the deputation of an existing cell in the police department, and providing of 24x7 help desk at the tehsil level for filing such representations by aggrieved persons.
  4. The Advocate General, representing the respondent, gave out a positive response to the suggestion by the court. It was assured by the Advocate General that a practically workable mechanism can be worked out to solve the issue.
  5. In this background, a judgment passed by a Division Bench of the High Court in Asha and another v. State of Haryana and others1 was brought to light. In that case, the Court had directed District & Sessions Judges in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to provide interim protection to inter-caste couples who approach them.
  6. The court, in the present case, held that over a period of time, the picture that emerged is that in spite of directions of this Court, for one reason or the other the couples are still approaching this Court. Having said that, the court stated it would be failing to perform its duty if grievances of such petitioners are not redressed in a time-bound manner.
  7. The court further opined that it was difficult for the court to examine or gauge the genuineness or the extent of threat perception. It is ultimately the police authorities who have to look into and deal with it.
  8. The court, therefore, ordered the government to grant protection to the appellants in case a request is made for the same and ordered the police official not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police to record the statements of the appellants.

CONCLUSION

The crux of the present case is the issue of inter-caste marriages and the non-acceptance of the same, due to which inter-caste couples have to approach the court seeking protection. The court, here, took to the opinion that non-acceptance of inter-caste couples is a social problem and it needs to be addressed.

There is genuine belief that due to non-acceptance of inter-caste marriages, there is scope for a threat to the lives and liberties of inter-caste couples, as they often marry against the wishes of their families. In the case of Valsala M.D. v. The Principal Secretary to the Government2, the court held that the petitioner is in my opinion entitled to the protection available to Government employees who have entered into an inter-caste marriage.

Furthermore, in the case of Kiruthika v. the Inspector of Police3, the court held that the caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. The court further held that it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages are, in fact, in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news is coming from several parts of the country that young men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them.

Therefore, ample protection needs to be given to such couples and there needs to be a complete overhaul in the way society looks at inter-caste marriages.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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