Lahore court tells cops to leave love marriages alone

Himalayan News Service

Lahore, June 4:

In a judgement that is bound to have echoes in Pakistan’s conservative Islamic society, a court here has warned police against interfering in love marriages between adults. The Lahore High Court has directed Punjab’s inspector general of police (IGP) “to ensure through his district police officers or superintendents of police that policemen do not interfere in marriages between consenting adults, otherwise the court will take stern action against such delinquents”, the Daily Times reported today. The court passed the order while validating a love marriage between Fakhira and Abid Ali that was solemnised in April 2003.

Fakhira told the court she had married Abid Ali of her own will but without the consent of her parents. She said police, at the instigation of her parents, were interfering with her matrimonial life and pressing her to divorce her husband. She also sought protection from police harassment. “The court admonished the police officials concerned for their illegal harassment and warned they would be sent to jail if they continued their actions,” Daily Times said.

The court observed that police reports lodged in such cases seemed to flow from the malice and frustration of parents. Parents should not usurp their children’s rights and should not pressure them, it added. Marrying by choice is the legal and religious right of every individual and parents cannot deny their adult children this right, the court held. When courts could not legally invalidate love marriages, police could certainly not interfere in such maters. Under the law and religion, no other option existed except to validate marriages contracted according to the free will of the partners. Police should try to protect this bond instead of trying to sabotage it, the court maintained.