P&H HC | Reiterating personal autonomy of choosing a life partner, Court clarifies that enforcement of a Fundamental Right cannot rest on ‘marriageable age’ of the petitioner

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Alka Sarin, J., allowing the present petition, reemphasized on the extended view of Article 21 as opted by the Supreme Court in Shafin Jahan case.

 The present criminal writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for enforcement of fundamental rights of the petitioners seeking protection of their life and liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. To put it briefly, the petitioners are residing together in a live in relationship and are willing to marry each other, against the wishes of their families. They are met with regular threat from their family members against which the present petition has been moved seeking protection under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 Court observed, “The petitioners are both major and have every right to live their lives as they desire within the four corners of the law. The society cannot determine how an individual should live her or his life. The Constitution of India guarantees every individual the right to life and the choice of a partner is an important facet of the right to life.”  Reliance was placed on the case of Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M., (2018) 16 SCC 368, wherein the Supreme Court observed, The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable. Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe are at the core of constitutional liberty.”

While allowing the petition, the Court further clarified, “Merely because of the fact that petitioner No.2 is not of a marriageable age the petitioners cannot possibly be denied enforcement of their fundamental rights as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioners, both being major, have decided to live together in a live-in relationship and there possibly may not be any legally justifiable reason for the respondents to object to the same.”[Priyapreet Kaur v. State of Punjab,  2020 SCC OnLine P&H 2340, decided on 23-12-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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