25 Feb 2022 1:31 PM GMT
Stressing that it is well settled that it is the right of a major to live with anyone out of his/her own will, the Allahabad High Court has held that the fact that a married boy is not above 21 years of age, would not render the marriage void. The Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Shamim Ahmed further clarified that at best, this could render the person responsible, liable...
Stressing that it is well settled that it is the right of a major to live with anyone out of his/her own will, the Allahabad High Court has held that the fact that a married boy is not above 21 years of age, would not render the marriage void.
The Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Shamim Ahmed further clarified that at best, this could render the person responsible, liable for punishment in terms of Section 18 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The case in brief
Essentially, the father of a girl had lodged an FIR under Section 363 and 366 I.P.C., alleging that a boy/accused had enticed away his daughter and he apprehended that either she had been sold or she had been killed.
After the FIR was lodged, the Daughter (Pratiksha Singh) and her husband, Karan Maurya/ Accused Boy jointly moved the instant writ plea before the HC seeking quashing of the FIR on the ground that the victim/daughter and the second petitioner/husband have fallen in love and have solemnized their marriage and are living together.
A counter affidavit was subsequently filed by the informant/father of the girl, in which the only ground urged to oppose the prayer was that the marriage itself is not legal, since the bridegroom had not completed the age of 21 years at the time of marriage.
At the outset, the Court noted that the legality of the marriage was not under challenge before the Court and further, the Court held that even otherwise, any violation of Section 5 (iii) of the Act would not render the marriage void.
Thereafter, the Court perused Section 11 (Void marriages) to note that while defining void marriages, the legislature had specifically omitted to mention Clause (iii) of Section 5 as one of the grounds for violation of which the marriage itself is rendered void.
Similarly, regarding Section 12 (Voidable marriages) of the HMA as well, the Court noted that it does not specify that any violation of Clause 5 (iii) would render the marriage voidable.
Here it may be noted that Clause 5 (iii) of the HM Act makes the completion of 21 years of age the bridegroom 18 years of age of the bride at the time of the marriage as a condition of marriage.
Against this backdrop, the Court held thus:
"Mere fact that the second petitioner was not above 21 years would not render the marriage void. At best any violation of Section 5 (iii) would render the person responsible liable for punishment in terms of Section 18 of the Act. However, the marriage itself would not be questionable on such ground."
Now, regarding the allegations of kidnapping leveled by the father of the girl against the accused/husband, the Court opined that in the light of the facts of the case, Section 363 and 366 would not be made out, once it is shown that the victim has joined the company of the accused out of her own free will and she has neither been kidnapped nor abducted or enticed to compel into the marriage.
Lastly, allowing the writ plea filed by the couple, the Court observed thus:
"In the facts of the case, the victim admittedly is above 18 years of age and once she had joined the company of the second petitioner, voluntarily, the offences disclosed in the First Information Report are clearly not shown to have been made out."
Case title - Pratiksha Singh And Another v. State Of U.P. And 3 OthersCase citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 75
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