Shaheen Parveen left her parents’ home with Mohd. Sarfaraj a few months before turning 18. They got married soon after. Shaheen’s mother initiated a successful criminal proceeding claiming Mohd Sarfaraj had abducted her daughter and forced her into marriage. The couple filed this petition seeking to quash the criminal proceedings, as their marriage was consensual and there was no evidence of coercion. The Court ruled in favor of the couple and quashed the criminal proceedings against Sarfaraj.
1. Shaheen Parveen and Mohd. Sarfaraj have approached this Court to seek a writ … to quash First Information Report bearing Case Crime No.-121 of 2014.
2. Case set up by the petitioners is that the petitioners having attained marriageable age got married. Marriage, however, is not being accepted by … the mother of petitioner No.1. Under the circumstances, aggrieved by the fact that the petitioner No.1 got married of her own accord, impugned criminal proceedings have been initiated.
4. [A]t the point in time when the prosecutrix went in the company of petitioner no.-2, she was less than 18 years of age. … [I]t has been admitted that the prosecutrix/victim did not support the prosecution case in her statement. … The Investigating Agency, however, is concluding that offence has been committed, on the ground that at the point in time when the prosecutrix went in the company of petitioner no.-2, she was less than 18 years of age.
6. Petitioner no.-2 is accused of committing an offence under Sections 363/366 of the Indian Penal Code.
7. Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code inheres that whoever kidnaps any person from lawful guardianship shall be punished in terms of sentence provided in the provision.
8. “Kidnapping from lawful guardianship” has been defined under Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code. The provision when extracted reads as under:-
9. Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code inheres that whoever kidnaps or abducts any woman with intent that she may be compelled, or knowing it to be likely that she will be compelled to marry any person against her will, or in order that she may be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, shall be punished with a sentence, as provided in the provision.
12. Documents placed collectively as Annexure SCA-2 indicate that the victim has been found to be above 18 years of age. The document further makes it evident that the victim is having pregnancy of 31 weeks gestation on 7.5.2015.
13. Annexure SCA-3 is the statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 CrPC on 8.5.2015. When translated, statement reads as under :
14. The Investigating Agency is concluding that at the point in time when the victim left in the company of the accused, she was a few months less than 18 years, which is the relevant age mentioned in Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code, above extracted. Clearly, the Investigating Agency is taking a hypertechnical view of the issue. The other relevant facts and circumstances of the case are being ignored.
16. If the statement of the prosecutrix, above noted, is taken into account, it becomes evident that ingredients of the offence under Sections 363/366 of the Indian Penal Code in regard to coercion, kidnapping or abduction allegedly committed by Sarfaraj, are not satisfied. The provisions of Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code are required to be considered in context of provisions of Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code. So as to satisfy the ingredients of Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code, it has to be established by the prosecuting agency that the accused/Sarfaraj took or enticed the prosecutrix out of the keeping of the lawful guardian of the prosecutrix, without the consent of the guardian/respondent no. 4. … Element of coercion and enticement by Sarfaraj is absent, although consent of the guardian had not been taken.
21. We have also taken into account the fact that in case the petitioner No.2 is allowed to be prosecuted, the matrimonial life of petitioner No.1/the alleged victim would be disrupted. Her husband would be incarcerated and there would be no one to take care of her child, who is yet-to-be-born.
22. If a minor, of her own, abandons the guardianship of her parents and joins a boy without any role having been played by the boy in her abandoning the guardianship of her parents and without her having been subjected to any kind of pressure, inducement, etc and without any offer or promise from the accused, no offence punishable under Section 363 I.P.C. will be made out when the girl is aged more than 17 years and is mature enough to understand what she is doing. … In case the victim/ prosecutrix willingly, of her own accord, accompanies the boy, the law does not cast a duty on the boy of taking her back to her father’s house or even of telling her not to accompany him.
23. A girl who has attained the age of discretion and was on the verge of attaining majority and is capable of knowing what was good and what was bad for her, cannot be said to be a victim of inducement, … In such circumstances, desire of the girl/victim is required to be seen. Ingredients of Section 361 I.P.C. are required to be considered accordingly, and not in mechanical or technical interpretation.
26. Petitioner No.1, the victim in her statement recorded under Section 164 CrPC has clearly demonstrated that it was she who went of her free will … and got married to [Sarfaraj] willingly. It is a consensual act on the part of petitioner No.1 … Such clear stand of the victim makes it evident that Mohd. Sarfaraj respondent No.2 cannot be attributed with coercing petitioner No.1, inducing petitioner No.1 or kidnapping or abducting her in commission of offence, as alleged. … The Court has not been shown any material which would indicate coercion, inducement or forceful act on the part of Sarfaraj.
28. [T]he Court is convinced that the impugned proceedings have been initiated in abuse of process of the Court and process of the law. A personal grudge against marriage of choice of the daughter is being settled by virtue of initiating impugned criminal proceedings, which would not be permissible in law. Such prosecution would abrogate constitutional right vested in the petitioners to get married as per their discretion.
29. The stand of the Prosecuting Agency that the victim was a few months below age of majority when she joined the company of the accused/petitioner No.2, and therefore offence has been committed, cannot be accepted if ground reality is taken into account. … In the considered opinion of the Court, substantial justice cannot be sacrificed at the altar of technicality, as is being concluded by the Investigating Agency.
32. The writ petition is allowed. Accordingly, First Information Report lodged as Case Crime No.-121 of 2014 under Sections 363/366 of the Indian Penal Code, Police Station Madiyawan, District Lucknow and all consequent proceedings are hereby quashed.”
A girl who has attained the age of discretion and was on the verge of attaining majority and is capable of knowing what was good and what was bad for her, cannot be said to be a victim of inducement. … In such circumstances, desire of the girl/victim is required to be seen.
[T]he Court is convinced that the impugned proceedings have been initiated in abuse of process of the Court and process of the law. A personal grudge against marriage of choice of the daughter is being settled by virtue of initiating impugned criminal proceedings, which would not be permissible in law. Such prosecution would abrogate constitutional right vested in the petitioners to get married as per their discretion.
Appellant was infuriated with his daughter, for having ‘dishonored’ his family, since she had left her husband and was living in an incestuous relationship with her uncle. Hence he strangulated her to death. He was convicted by the trial court, judgment upheld by the High Court. All circumstantial evidence pointed to the guilt of the appellant. Statement of his mother was admitted as extra judicial confession. Court found no reason to go against the decisions of the lower courts, hence appeal was dismissed.
Full Citation: Bhagwan Dass v. State (NCT) of Delhi, (2011) 6 SCC 396
This was a case of caste-based discrimination. The Lata Singh judgment was referred to, in relation to ‘honor’ related crimes. The court directed the administration and police officials to take strong measures to prevent such atrocious acts. If any such incidents happen, apart from instituting criminal proceedings against those responsible for such atrocities, the State Government has been directed to immediately suspend the District Magistrate/Collector and SSP/SPs of the district as well as other officials concerned and charge sheet them and proceed against them departmentally if they do not (1) prevent the incident if it has not already occurred but they have knowledge of it in advance, or (2) if it has occurred, they do not promptly apprehend the culprits and others involved and institute criminal proceedings against them, as in our opinion they will be deemed to be directly or indirectly accountable in this connection.
Full Citation: Arumugam Servai vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2011 STPL (Web) 403 SC
Lata Singh vs State Of U.P. & Another was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court provided unwavering support of a woman’s right to choice. The petitioner, Lata Singh, was a major when she left her family’s home to marry a man outside of her caste. This set off a chain of abuses, as her three brothers were against the relationship. Singh’s brothers went to the paternal home of Singh’s husband and harassed and beat up his family members, destroyed their crops, and took forcible possession of their shop. The brothers proceeded to lodge a false police report alleging Singh had been abducted, for which three of Singh’s in-laws were arrested. Singh filed this successful petition to have their charges dropped. The judge further directed that criminal proceedings should commence against Singh’s brothers.
1. This writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India has been filed a prayer for issuing a writ of certiorari and/or mandamus for quashing Sessions Trial No. 1201 of 2001 under Sections 366 and 368 of the Penal Code arising out of FIR No. 336 of 2000. … The facts of the case are as under:
The Petitioner is a young woman now aged about 27 years. … Due to the sudden death of her parents she started living with her brother Ajay Pratap Singh [in] Lucknow.
2. It is alleged by the Petitioner that on 2-11-2000 she left her brother’s house of her own free will and got married at Arya Samaj Mandir, Delhi to one Brahma Nand Gupta … and they have a child from this wedlock.
4. It is further alleged that he Petitioner’s brothers Ajay Pratap Singh, Shashi Pratap Singh and Anand Pratap Singh were furious because the Petitioner underwent an inter-caste marriage, and hence they went to the Petitioner’s husband’s paternal residence and vehemently beat up her husband’s mother and uncle, threw the luggage, furniture, utensils, etc. from the house and locked it with their lock. One brother of the Petitioner’s husband was allegedly locked in a room by the Petitioner’s brothers for four or five days without meals and water. The Petitioner’s brothers also allegedly cut away the harvest crops of the agricultural field of the Petitioner’s husband and sold it, and they also took forcible possession of the field. They also lodged a false police report alleging kidnapping of the Petitioner against her husband and his relatives at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow, due to which the sisters of the Petitioner’s husband, and the husband of one of the sisters, were arrested and detained in Lucknow jail. The Petitioner’s brothers also illegally took possession of the shop of the Petitioner’s husband.
5. It is further alleged that the Petitioner’s brothers are threatening to kill the Petitioner’s husband and his relatives, and to kidnap and kill her also.
6. [The petitioner’s husbands relatives] were arrested on 17-12-2000 [and] on 2-12-2000. It is alleged that the three relatives of the Petitioner’s husband were not granted bail for a long time and their lives got ruined though there was no [factual basis for the case lodged] against them.
7. A final report was submitted by the SHO, Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow [in which] the learned Sessions Judge, Lucknow enlarged the accused on bail on furnishing a personal bond on 16-5-2001 by observing that neither was there any offence nor were the accused involved in any offence. … [A]ll the accused persons have been released on bail on 17-5-2001.
8. Thereafter the investigating officer recorded the statement of the Petitioner Lata Gupta @ on 28-5-2001 and for this purpose armed security was provided to her. … Petitioner stated that she married Brahma Nand Gupta of her own free will. Despite this statement, the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow passed the committal order on 5-10-2001 ignoring the fact that the police had already filed a final report in the matter.
9. [A] protest petition was filed … alleging that the Petitioner was not mentally fit. However, the Petitioner was medically examined, [and it was determined that] the Petitioner was not suffering from any type of mental illness.
11. The Petitioner alleged that she cannot visit Lucknow as she apprehends danger to her life and the lives of her husband and small child. She has further alleged that her brothers have assaulted, humiliated and irreparably harmed the entire family members of her husband Brahma Nand Gupta and their properties.
13. This case reveals a shocking state of affairs. There is no dispute that the Petitioner is a major and was at all relevant times a major. Hence she is free to marry anyone she likes or live with anyone she likes.
14. We are of the opinion that no offence was committed by any of the accused and the whole criminal case in question is an abuse of the process of the court … We are distressed to note that instead of taking action against the Petitioner’s brothers for their unlawful and high- handed acts … the police has instead proceeded against the Petitioner’s husband and his relatives.
16. The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-case marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news are coming from several parts of the country that young men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished. This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes.
17. We sometimes hear of “honour” killings of such persons who undergo inter-caste or inter-religious marriage of their own free will. There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons who deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.
18. The proceedings in Sessions Trial No. 1201 of 2001 titled State of U.P. v. Sangita Gupta arising out of FIR No. 336 of 2000 registered at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow and pending in the Fast Track Court V, Lucknow are quashed. The warrants against the accused are also quashed. … We further direct that in view of the allegations in the petition (set out above) criminal proceedings shall be instituted forthwith by the authorities concerned against the Petitioner’s brothers and Ors. involved, in accordance with law. Petition allowed.
We sometimes hear of “honour” killings of such persons who undergo inter-caste or inter-religious marriage of their own free will. There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons who deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.
The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-case marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news are coming from several parts of the country that young men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished. This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes.