Laxmibai Chandaragi B. And Anr. vs. The State Of Karnataka And Ors. [2021 SCC OnLine SC 85]
Coram: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, J. and Hrishikesh Roy, J.
Facts: In the instant case,
one Mr. Basappa Chandaragi lodged a complaint with the Murgod Police Station, Belagavi District, Karnataka stating that his daughter, Ms. Laxmibai Chandaragi, Petitioner No. 1 herein was missing since 14.10.2020. In pursuance to the complaint, an FIR of a missing person was registered. From the call details, it became apparent that Petitioner No. 1 was in contact with Mr. Santosh Singh Yadav, Petitioner No. 2. In the course of investigation, it was found that Petitioner No. 1, apparently without informing her parents, had travelled to Delhi, and thereafter, married Petitioner No. 2. Subsequently,Petitioner No. 1 sent her marriage certificate to her parents through Whatsapp on 15.10.2020.
The Investigating Officer (“IO”) proceeded to Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh to know the whereabouts of Petitioner No.1 and visited the residence of Petitioner No. 2 in Ghaziabad. Petitioner No. 1 spoke to the IO and informed that she had already married Petitioner No. 2 and was residing with him. But, the IO instead insisted that Petitioner No. 1 appear before the Murgod Police Station to record a statement so that the case of missing person can be closed. Petitioner No. 1 sent a letter to the IO stating that there was threat from her parents, and thus, she was unable to visit the police station. The case of missing person was still not closed by the IO.
It is in the aforesaid circumstances, that the present petition wasfiled by the Petitioners before the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
Contentions of the Petitioner:
Observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court:
Deprecating the conduct of the IO, the Hon’ble Court held that the IO could have visited the residence of Petitioner No.2 and easily recorded the statement of Petitioner No.1 rather than insisting and calling the Petitioners to the local police station in Karnataka. It was further noted that the IO undoubtedly compelled Petitioner No.1 to visit the police station on the threat of possibility of a false case being registered by her parents against Petitioner No. 2. Therefore, the Hon’ble Court directed that the officer be sent for counselling as to how to manage such cases. It further highlighted the need to devise a training programme for police personnel to deal with such socially sensitive cases as well as to counsel the current IOs.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court further noted that fact that both the parties were well educated, major and married each other consensually. It observed that 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 but in the meantime these youngsters face threats from the elders, and the Courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters.
Taking strength from Shakti Vahini v. Union of India [(2018) 7 SCC 192], the Hon’ble Supreme 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. It further relied on the case of Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar [(2017) 4 SCC 397], wherein it was held 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.” Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. Furthermore i
n Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K M (2018), the Hon’ble Supreme Court noticed that the intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable. The right to marry a person of choice was held to be an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2018) was also 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 an individual.
On an optimistic note, the Hon’ble Court quoted Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who wrote:
“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