Society can’t interfere on individual’s decision of choosing life partner: Bombay HC
While hearing the long pending kidnapping case the court stated that neither the State nor society can interfere into the decision of individuals in choosing their marital partners. The court ruled that in the matter relating to marriage the decision solely rests upon an individual. The choices on whether or not to marry and on whom to marry lie outside the control of the State.
Rather, the Courts being the upholders of constitutional freedoms must safeguard these freedoms of the individuals, the court said.
Facts of the case
A criminal writ petition was filed by Junned Ahmed Mujib Khan, father of minor daughter, Khaleda seeking the issuance of the writ of Habeas Corpus.
The petitioner claimed that his daughter, Khaleda was kidnapped from Aurangabad around two years ago. Necessarily, FIR was registered by his brother in law in local police station, Chawani. After few days, petitioner’s wife alleged a person named Furkan to be responsible for the whole incident. The concerned police officer recorded her statement but did not take any appropriate action to find their lost daughter. In the view of police’s facetious nature, the petitioner approached this court pleading the issuance of Habeas Corpus against the respondents and handover her custody to him.
On March 3, 2021, the court ordered the concerned authorities (Police Inspector and the Commissioner of Police) to produce petitioner’s daughter before the court. On May 6, 2021, the court was informed by the prosecutor that their team had suspected a person from Hyderabad as a kidnapper. He was found withdrawing money from his father’s account (Sannulla Khan Kalandar Khan)
On June 6, 2021, the missing girl along with her mother in law, father in law and her child was produced before the court. The Court interacted with the girl in the open court. She confessed before the court that she gave birth to a boy child when she was nine months short of being an adult and she got married in June 2021. She further stated that she willingly left her house after being subjected to physical assault by her parents, who were against their relationship.
The court carefully analyzed and recorded all the statements.
Advocate AV Indrale Patil, on the behalf of petitioner submitted that in the view of facts and circumstances of the present case, it would be appropriate to invoke the doctrine of ‘parens patriae’ (which states that the State has the sovereign power of guardianship over persons who are incapable of asserting free consent such as minors or persons of unsound mind) as the girl was minor when the complaint was filed and now as she has reached the majority age, she is a vulnerable adult.
The court rejected this claim.
The court referred to the judgment passed by Supreme Court in the case of Shafin Jahan vs. Asokan K. M. and others where the court had discussed the purpose of Habeas Corpus and also held that the doctrine to parens patriae could be invoked by the Court only in exceptional cases where the parties before it are either mentally incompetent or have not come of age and it is proved to the satisfaction of the Court that the said parties have either no parent / legal guardian or have an abusive or negligent parent / legal guardian.
After detailed analysis of the facts and circumstances of the case and the judgments referred especially the Hadiya case the court held that the doctrine of parens patriae was inapplicable in the present case. The division bench of Justices VK Jadhav and SD Kulkarni stated that Court should not transgress into an area of determining the suitability of the partners to a marital tie while implementing the principle of parens patriae.
The court noticed that the sole intention of the petitioner while approaching this court was to protect the interest and well-being of his daughter. The court emphasized that same should be done without infringing the fundamental rights of the daughter. The liberty of the girl who voluntarily got married should be protected and respected.
"The strength of our Constitution lies in its acceptance of the plurality and diversity of our culture", the Court added.
The Court, therefore, delivering the order in the favor of the girl ruled that she is at liberty to live her life in according to the law. The writ of habeas corpus was dismissed off.
(Junned Ahmed Mujib Khan v. State of Maharashtra)