A Madras High Court Bench comprising of Justice S. Manikumar and Justice V.S. Ravi considered the concern shown by several parents regarding the rights of the parents to decide the future course of action, as regards education and marriage of their children, but restrained from issuing any orders in this respect, in view of the law of the land.
The bench agreed with the contention raised that custom, tradition and the welfare of the adolescents have to be taken care of and parents who have nurtured the children, with love and affection and provided education, would be the best persons, to act, for the welfare of their children.
However, the Bench observed that it had its own limitations in issuing any orders, in view of the laws of the land. It was observed, "By taking advantage of technology and utilities like mobile, computers, social media, it is very easy for young persons to get in contact with others, even from far off distances, and it is not uncommon that adolescent boys or girls are found missing or reported to have developed some sort of relationship, mostly, described as a love affair."
The petition was filed by R. Thiagarajan, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, directing the Superintendent of Police and the Inspector of Police of Trichy District, for producing the detenue, Iswarya, who was the petitioner's daughter.
Iswarya was undergoing Bachelor of Engineering in Anna University, Trichirappalli when she went missing in August 2014. The petitioner came to know that she was in custody of the respondent, Manohar. He was then informed by the Inspector of Police that since the alleged detenue had attained majority, she can decide her course of action.
The petitioner had contended that it is the duty of the father to safeguard the custody of the alleged detenue and that the second respondent has a duty to enquire into the complaint, in a fair and reasonable manner, ascertaining as to where there was any undue influence or threat on the alleged detenue.
He further submitted that at the threshold of crossing the age of 18, children would not be in a position to decide their future course of action, particularly to lead life. He also submitted that on attainment of majority, children take extreme steps of deciding their own future, including marriage.
Though Mr.L.Madhusudhanan, the counsel appearing for the petitioner expressed his deep concern over the decision making power and capacity of the persons, who had just completed the age of 18 years, to chose their life partners, and lead a life, of their own choice, which is against the custom, tradition and culture and further submitted that some of the marriages also end in failure, the Court restrained from issuing any prohibitory orders, as regards the exercise of rights of such persons, for the reason, that as per the laws of the land, completion of 18 years of age has been fixed as the age, to take care of their person and property.
The Bench questioned, "When Hindu Law prescribes 21 years as marriageable age for the male, whether it could be said that the girl would acquire social, psychological maturity, on attaining the age of 18 years. Capacity to drive a motor vehicle, decision to vote, eligibility to travel by obtaining travel documents, minimum age to secure employment, which are illustrative, whether all that could be equated to mental maturity for marriage of a girl, when comparatively a higher age is prescribed for a male? Not to state about the problems, which a young girl faces after marriage, if not supported."
Read the judgment here.