Consent of family, community or clan not necessary once two adult individuals agree to enter into wedlock

Consent of family, community or clan not necessary once two adult individuals agree to enter into wedlock

Laxmibai Chandaragi B and Anr Vs The State of Karnataka

Supreme Court

08/02/2021

WRIT PETITION [CRIMINAL] NO. 359/2020

About/from the judgment:

The consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock, the Supreme Court observed.

The Court observed that such a right or choice to marry is not expected to succumb to the concept of "class honour" or "group thinking".

The court also said that the police authorities shall formulate guidelines and training programmes how to handle 'socially sensitive cases'.

A father of a girl lodged 'missing persons complaint' after she eloped and married a person, without informing him. Even after knowing about their whereabouts and the factum of marriage, the Investigating officer insisted that the girl should appear before the Murgod police station to record a statement so that the case can be closed. Faced with this, the couple approached the Supreme Court, alleging that IO is asking the girl to come back to Karnataka as otherwise they will come to her and register a case of kidnapping against the husband at the behest of her family members.

The investigating officer must be sent for counseling as to how to manage such cases, the bench said that while criticizing the conduct of the IO in adopting these tactics.

"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.", it said.

"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. We are fortified in our view by earlier judicial pronouncements of this Court clearly elucidating 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. It is in that context it was further observed that 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 expected to succumb to the concept of "class honour" or "group thinking.", the court said.

The court also referred to the judgments in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K M & Ors. and Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India.

"In Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K M, this Court noticed that the society was emerging through a crucial transformational period. Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable and even matters of faith would have the least effect on them. The right to marry a person of choice was held to be integral Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In this behalf, the judgment of the nine Judges Bench in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India may also be referred to where the autonomy of an individual inter alia in relation to family and marriage were held to be integral to the dignity of the individual.", the bench noted.

Observing thus, the Court quashed the FIR. "We hope that the parents of girl will have a better sense to accept the marriage and re-establish social interaction not only with her but even with her husband. That, in our view, is the only way forward.", the bench added.

While disposing the writ petition 'with some hope for the future', the bench also quoted Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's "Annihilation of Caste":

"I am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish. Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste."

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