Marriage with minor girl is valid if she is willing to cohabit with husband after attaining majority
Machhindra Appaji Patil and ors Vs The State of Maharashtra and anr
WRIT PETITION NO.4289 of 2018
About/from the judgment:
The High Court on Thursday heard a petition filed by a 56-year-old lawyer accused under Sections 376(2)(i)(n), 323 and 496 of Indian Penal Code 1860 and Sections 6 and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, and Sections 9, 10 and 11 of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 for quashing of FIR u/Section 482 of IPC.
The petitioner got married to his second wife (respondent no.2) on April 21, 2015, after the death of his first wife in 2014. At the time, the respondent wife was aged 14 years and 7 months.
Thereafter, on February 13, 2017, the second wife registered an FIR against the petitioner lawyer at Kalachowki Police Station in Mumbai. The grandparents of the wife were booked under Sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and arrested. While the accused petitioner stayed in custody for 10 months, the grandparents stayed in custody for a month.
Both the parties, then, settled their dispute amicably and approached the court invoking jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 read with Sections 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India for quashing the subject crime by consent.
Petitioner's lawyer Senior Counsel Ashok Mundargi submitted that marriage of petitioner No.1 with respondent No.2 is voidable marriage under the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. He further submitted that the wife is ready and willing to cohabit with the accused husband and it would be in the interest of both parties to quash the said FIR.
APP Aruna Pai appearing for the state vehemently opposed the said petition and pointed out the seriousness of offences registered against the petitioner. She said that quashing the FIR would give a wrong message to the public at large.
Respondent wife was personally present before the court. In her affidavit dated April 30, 2019, she has stated that the dispute between herself and the petitioner has been settled and, therefore, she is giving no objection to quash the subject FIR. She then submitted before the bench that she was not aware that the case would take such a serious turn. She further submitted that she is now ready and willing to cohabit with the petitioner.
The court observed-
"We are concerned about the welfare of respondent No.2. Respondent No.2 undisputedly was a minor at the time of her marriage with petitioner No.1. But now, she has become major and has expressed her willingness to cohabit with petitioner No.1. Since respondent No.2 is ready to cohabit with petitioner No.1 as his legally wedded wife, the marriage which otherwise is voidable, becomes valid. We are also of the opinion that ultimately respondent No.2 will suffer if the subject case is allowed to go on as she is now married and no one in the society would accept her as a wife and we think at this stage securing her future is of prime importance."
Then, Ashok Mundargi took instructions from his client and informed the court that 6 acres of land has already been transferred in the name of respondent wife by the petitioner. In addition to this, land admeasuring 5 acres would be further transferred in the name of the wife by executing legal documents within 3 months from today, Mundargi said. In addition to above, Mundargi submitted that an amount of Rs 7.5 lakh would be invested in fixed deposit in the name of respondent wife in any nationalised bank.
The court accepted the statement made but deferred the hearing on the petition until February 10, 2020 to observed the conduct and behaviour of petitioner towards his wife. However, to monitor compliance of commitments made, the court kept the matter on board on August 20, 2019.
It further stayed the proceedings against the petitioner for the time-being but also clarified that the said order is passed in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case and the same shall not be treated as a precedent.
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