Last year in a hard-hitting judgment, the Karnataka High Court dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a Bangalore resident seeking reunion with his newly married wife, who he claimed was illegally detained by her parents.
Observing that a girl below the age of 21 years cannot judge the character of a person she marries, the Division Bench comprising Justice Bhaktavatsala and Justice Govindaraju directed police to lodge a suo motu kidnapping case against the petitioner, Avinash of Sudhama Nagar.
The court further observed that a girl below 21 years of age must have the consent of the parents for her marriage. “Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage,” the Bench said.
Terming as void Avinash’s marriage with the girl without her parents’ consent, the court levied a cost of Rs 10,000 on him. “The court cannot shut its eyes even when police fail to initiate action,” the Bench said. On the petitioner’s contention of illegal detention, the court said, “Parents keeping the child with them does not amount to illegal detention.”
The girl’s parents had lodged a complaint of kidnapping on February 7, 2011, with the Wilson Garden Police after their minor daughter, a second PU student, went missing on February 2 while on her way to college. Avinash had taken her to Krishnagiri where he married her on March 3, 2011, after she turned 18 on March 1.
On returning to Bangalore on March 28, he appeared before the police, who brokered peace between the two families by ensuring that the boy got to meet the girl twice a day and appeared before the police daily. However, when the girl’s parents refused to abide by the deal and denied him permission to meet his wife, he filed a habeas corpus plea.
When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the Bench lashed out at the petitioner saying, “This is (the marriage) nothing but a case of kidnapping. If the marriage fails, the girl will return to her parents who are the actual sufferers.”
The Bench said that parents protecting their child was not illegal detention. “The Hindu Marriage Act is not a contract. It needs permission from parents. (Avinash’s case) is nothing but misuse of the girl and her age,” the court said.
Stating that it would take a decision in the interest of the people, the court observed orally, “If it was love, you should wait. Why should you elope? He (boy) will not carry the sin. The girls are the sufferers.”
Taking the police to task, the court said, “Police don’t behave like human beings. You cannot decide on such matters. Who are you to decide? You are just adding fuel to fire.”
When counsel for the respondents K N Puttegowda submitted that it was the third love affair for the boy, the Bench asked Avinash: “Why did you go to Tamil Nadu? To see tsunami? This kind of people should be hanged.”
The court dismissed the matter and directed the Wilson Garden Police to take Avinash into custody immediately.
the judgment cited was issued in the high court on May 12, 2011: “We have seen many cases of run-away love marriages and untold misery and hardship of the parents and the girls. All the love marriages are not successful. In the event of failure of the love marriage of the girl, it is the girl and her parents who have to suffer…The girls, later on, realise their mistake that they were hasty in love marriage and repent at leisure. (sic)”
This was the text of the judgment signed by justices K Bhakthavatsala and K Govindarajulu as they heard the petition of a resident of Sudhamanagar, Avinash.
The man had pleaded that the court issue a writ of habeas corpus, directing the father of the girl to produce before the court his ‘legally wedded wife,’ Sanghavi.
Avinash and Sanghavi had married on March 2, 2011, without the consent of their parents.
The father of the girl lodged a missing person complaint, and Avinash, in a bid to have his ‘wife’ returned to him, had filed another complaint.
However, in that case, Avinash had not turned 21 at the time of the marriage, so had not attained the age when a man could legally wed. Sanghavi too had not turned 18, when a woman is allowed to marry legally.
Delivering a judgment in this case, on May 12, 2011 the judges ruled, “In our opinion, the girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgment… It is relevant to mention that those girls, who are suffering from hormonal imbalance, easily fall prey to the boys and fall in love, marry and repent at leisure… the Hindu Marriage Act does not deal with love marriages … In our opinion, Parliament had not taken into account the love marriages when the Bill was introduced…”
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