Runaway couple ‘weds’ by lighting fire in utensil at hotel room; HC terms it invalid, imposes Rs 25k fine for misleading court

Hearing a protection plea by a couple, even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court disposed the matter with direction to the Panchkula Police Commissioner to look into their representation, it imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the couple for ‘misleading’ the court about their marriage- which as per the High Court was not valid.

The petitioner couple woman, 20, and man, 19, have approached the HC seeking issuance of a direction to State of Haryana and others for protection of life and liberty, apprehending threat by the relatives of the woman.

As per the petitioner, they had solemnised their marriage on September 26, 2021, after running away from their homes. However, neither any marriage certificate nor any photographs of the wedding have been annexed nor any particulars are forthcoming as to where the marriage was solemnised.

The petitioners were thus asked by the HC to furnish the information regarding their marriage and their counsel had sought time for furnishing documents regarding the location of the wedding ceremony and the identity of the priest who solemnised the marriage, besides giving information about the marriage certificate.

The couple had then submitted an application stating that “the marriage was not solemnised by any priest at any temple and no marriage certificate was ever issued.” It said that as per instructions furnished by the petitioners, on September 26, 2021, both the petitioners stayed at a hotel room in Ambala, where in the evening, the petitioner man filled vermilion in the forehead (maang) of the petitioner woman, and both they exchanged garlands and performed saptpadi by burning a fire in a utensil in the said room. However, no sermons were chanted by anyone.

The Bench of Justice Gurvinder Singh Gill, which had been hearing the matter, thus held that it is a case where the petitioner man was not of marriageable age. “It is apparent that the petitioners have made an attempt to mislead the court by stating that they have solemnised marriage, whereas infact there is no such evidence to this effect as the petitioners have now come up with a plea that on September 26, 2021, they stayed at a hotel and performed the rituals in the room without the chanting of any sermons, observed the Bench order.

Justice Gill further said, “The aforesaid explanation appears to be an attempt to cover up the fact that there was no valid marriage amongst the petitioners, though it has been stated so in the petition. This court can hardly appreciate such conduct on the part of the petitioners, who, in order to get relief from court, have tried to mislead the court.”

However, he added that: “In any case, since the petitioners apprehend threat to their lives and liberty, this court cannot shirk from its duties to secure and protect the lives and liberty of the petitioners, in case there is any genuine threat to the same. As such, the petition is disposed of with a direction to respondent No.2-Commissioner of Police, Panchkula to look into the matter and to dispose of the representation expeditiously in accordance with law.”

The Bench of Justice Gill further held, “It is, however, clarified that the aforesaid order shall not be taken to be any expression as regards any relationship of the petitioners and shall not confer any immunity upon the petitioners, in case it is found that they have committed any wrong.”

Meanwhile stating that the petitioners have not approached this Court with clean hands and have rather made an attempt to mislead the Court, the Bench ordered, “petitioners are burdened with costs of Rs 25000 to be paid in High Court Legal Services Committee”.

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