New Delhi: Observing that freedom of choice in marriage is an intrinsic part of the constitution and questions of faith have no bearing on the freedom to choose a life partner, the Delhi high court has said the police are expected to act expeditiously and with sensitivity for protection of couples apprehending hostility from others including family members.
The court’s observation came while dealing with bail pleas arising from a case involving the alleged attempt to murder and physical assault on a man by his wife’s family. The couple had married against the wishes of the woman’s family.
The family members of the woman abducted them and brutally beat the man up, severed his genitals with an axe and also inflicted stab injuries, according to the complaint. The man was thrown into a drain and was rescued by his brother. He was admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre.
According to LiveLaw, the prosecution said that when the couple returned to Delhi after their marriage, the wife’s family members were “infuriated and threatened to kill the husband”. The husband filed an application seeking protection with the Rajouri Garden police station on December 22, 2021. But as they were returning from the police station, the wife’s family members abducted them and took them and assaulted the man, the report says.
The court said it was “unfortunate” that necessary steps for ensuring the safety and security of the couple were not initiated by the police station concerned on their complaint when they were expected to act promptly and any such lapse cannot be accepted and thus called for action against those responsible.
The court also asked the Delhi police commissioner for taking necessary measures for sensitising police officials in dealing with such complaints.
“The freedom of choice in marriage in accordance with law is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Even the questions of faith have no bearing on an individual’s freedom to choose a life partner and are the essence of personal liberty,” said Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta in a recent order.
“Wherever the life and liberty of any individual is concerned, especially in cases of couples legally marrying out of their own freewill and volition, the police is expected to act expeditiously and with sensitivity in accordance with law and take necessary measures for protection and safety of applicants concerned, if they apprehend hostility and concerns for their safety from different quarters including their own family members,” the court said.
“The conduct of the police officials concerned in this regard (in this case) is depreciable and needs to be looked into and necessary action taken. Any such lapse cannot be accepted on behalf of the police. A copy of this order be accordingly forwarded to Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police for taking necessary measures for sensitising police officials in dealing with such complaints, under intimation to this Court, within a period of four weeks,” ordered the court.
The wife’s sister, mother and grandmother had moved the court seeking bail. Considering the grave nature of the offence and the “ghastly manner in which the assault was made,” the court refused to grant bail to the mother and the grandmother of the wife, who allegedly participated in the assault.
The court, however, granted bail to the sister of the wife on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and one surety of the same amount, noting that “no active role appears to have been attributed to her”.
This article was first published on The Wire.
(With PTI inputs)