RIGHT TO MARRY
LAXMIBAI CHANDARAGI B vs. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA, SC 2021
One Mr. Basappa Chandaragi lodged a complaint with the Murgod Police Station, Savadatti Taluk, Belagavi District stating that his daughter Ms. Laxmibai Chandaragi, petitioner No.1 herein was missing since 14.10.2020. In pursuance to the complaint, FIR No.226/2020 of a missing person was registered and the investigation officer recorded the statement of the missing person’s parents and her relatives and took call details. From the call details, it became apparent that the petitioner No.1 was in contact with Mr. Santosh Singh Yadav, petitioner No.2. In the course of investigation it was found that the petitioner No.1,apparently without informing her parents, had travelled by flight from Hubli to Bangalore and further from Bangalore to Delhi and thereafter married petitioner No.2. The petitioner No.1 sent her marriage certificate to her parents through whatsapp on 15.10.2020 in which she revealed the factum of marriage to petitioner No.2. It is the case of the State that the IO proceeded to Ghaziabad to know the whereabouts of petitioner No.1 and on visiting the residence of petitioner No.2, was informed by his parents that they do not know the whereabouts of the petitioners. However, the petitioner No.1 spoke to the investigating officer and informed that she had already married petitioner No.2 and was residing with him.
But the IO instead insisted that the petitioner No.1 should appear before the Murgod police station to record a statement so that the case can be closed. The petitioner No.1 sent a letter to the IO stating that she was married to petitioner No.2 and there was threat from her parents and thus, was unable to visit the police station. The case was still not closed of missing person by the IO.
Thus the petition was filed in SC under Article 32 of the Constitution of India since according to the petitioner there is an issue of duality of jurisdiction arising from her residing with petitioner No.2 in the State of Uttar Pradesh while the petitioner No.1 came from Karnataka. It is the case of the petitioners that the uncle of petitioner No.1 was threatening them. On the petitioners approaching the Allahabad High Court on 19.10.2020, seeking protection for themselves and the family members, the matter could not be taken upon even after about a period of one month for urgent hearing.
The petitioners have annexed a transcript of the conversation between petitioner No.1 and the police whereby the IO is asking her to come back to Karnataka as otherwise they will come to her and register a case of kidnapping against petitioner No.2 at the behest of her family members.
The SC strongly deprecate the conduct of the IO and held that the the aforesaid does not reflect very well on the police authorities or the IO, the marriage certificate having been received by him and the conversation already been held with petitioner No.1 where she clearly stated that she was married to petitioner No.2 and that she was feeling threatened and apprehensive of coming to the police station. If the IO could have visited the residence of petitioner No.2, he could very well have recorded the statement of petitioner No.1 at the place where the petitioners were residing rather than insisting and calling upon the petitioners to come to the local police station at Karnataka. Not only that, he undoubtedly sought to compel the petitioner No.1 to come and record the statement at police station on the threat of possibility of a false case being registered by her parents against the petitioner No.2 and the consequent action of the police which would result in the arrest of petitioner No.2.
Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners which, in turn is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role. Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such inter marriage but in the meantime these youngsters face threats from the elders and the Courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters.
The Court reiterated that the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.
The choice of an individual is an inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice. Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb to the concept of “class honour” or “group thinking.
The way forward to the police authorities is to not only counsel the current IOs but device a training programme to deal with such cases for the benefit of the police personnel. We expect the police authorities to take action in this behalf in the next eight weeks to lay down some guidelines and training programmes how to handle such socially sensitive cases.
Insofar as the present case is concerned, the petitioners having filed the present petition, no further statement is really required to be recorded and thus, the proceedings in pursuance to the FIR No.226/2020 dated 15.10.2020 registered at Murgod Police Station, Belagavi District, Karnataka are quashed with the hope that the parents of petitioner No.1 will have a better sense to accept the marriage and re-establish social interaction not only with petitioner No.1 but even with petitioner No.2.