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'Concentrate On Completing Education': Madhya Pradesh High Court Advises Adult Woman Wanting To Marry Outside Religion

Zeeshan Thomas
23 Feb 2022 5:07 AM GMT
Concentrate On Completing Education: Madhya Pradesh High Court Advises Adult Woman Wanting To Marry Outside Religion
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday, directed the release of an adult woman confined at Nari Niketan, who was facing opposition in her family for wanting to marry a man outside her religion. The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Manindar Singh Bhatti further advised her to concentrate on finishing her studies, stating that marriage, though important, can be...

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday, directed the release of an adult woman confined at Nari Niketan, who was facing opposition in her family for wanting to marry a man outside her religion.

The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Manindar Singh Bhatti further advised her to concentrate on finishing her studies, stating that marriage, though important, can be postponed when pitched against education.

The Bench was essentially dealing with a petition seeking issuance of writ of habeas corpus for release of the Corpus from her alleged unlawful confinement at Nari Niketan.

In the instant case, the Petitioner and the Corpus had known one another for years and had developed fondness for each other, and were inclined to get married. However, it was alleged that the parents of the Corpus were unable to approve of the marriage between her and the Petitioner, primarily because the Petitioner belonged to a different religion. Another concern on the part of the parents was that the Corpus was of an impressionable age i.e., 19 years, when she should be prioritizing her academic career over marriage.

During the proceedings, the Corpus categorically expressed her desire to marry the Petitioner. She also revealed that the petitioner has assured her of physical and financial assistance for completing her education (She is pursuing a Nursing Course). However, she shared her apprehension with the Court that the Petitioner may solemnize another marriage after marrying her. Corollary to the same, the Court directed the Petitioner to file an affidavit to assuage the concern of the Corpus.

Complying with the directions of the Court, the Petitioner filed an affidavit, stating that he wanted to marry the Corpus under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. He also stated that he would take care of her needs as per his capacity and ensure that she completes her education. He further stated that he has never asked her to change her religion and that since she is an adult, it is up to her to decide which religion she would want to follow, as is his choice to follow a religion of his own liking.

The Court noted the apprehensions raised by the father and brother of the Corpus about her safety and security. Her family claimed that their interest was in the Corpus completing her studies so that she attains self-reliance and is not dependent on the Petitioner who has meager source of income.

The Court accepted that the Corpus was above 19 years old and was legally entitled to take a decision with regard to the choice of her marriage. However, it noted that the concerns of her family members towards her cannot be belittled by her own desire to marry the person she wants to.

The corpus is more than 19 years of age (D.O.B. 19.10.2002) and therefore, as per law is entitled to take a decision on the choice of marriage. However, parents of corpus are equally concerned with the safety and security of their daughter and their cause of concern cannot be belittled when compared with the desire of corpus to get married to the petitioner.

Having observed the same, the Court held that since the Corpus had attained the age of majority, she could not be confined in Nari Niketan, and therefore, ordered her release-

The corpus has already attained the age of majority and, therefore, cannot be kept confined in Nari Niketan where she was lodged since last few days awaiting resolution of the dispute that arose between the petitioner, corpus and parents of corpus. This Court therefore issues a writ of habeas corpus directing Nari Niketan at Pathar Khera District Betul (M.P.) to release the corpus forthwith and allow her to exercise right to personal liberty.

The Court then shared its view on the importance of a father in the life of his daughter-

Before parting, this Court would like to add that role of the father of the corpus does not come to an end if the corpus gets married (to anyone). The father continues to be father even after marriage of his daughter and, therefore, is equally entitled to ensure the safety and security of the daughter. Thus, this Court expects that the father of the corpus shall continue to keep in touch with the corpus and provide her with the financial and emotional assistance which she requires to the extent such assistance falls short and is unable to be provided by her spouse.

The Court further sermonised the Corpus, advising her to focus on completing her education and becoming independent. It further opined that marriage, though important, should take a backseat when pitched against education-

The corpus is also advised by this Court to understand the priorities in life. Academics has very important role to play in the early formative years of a human being. Thus, the corpus should first concentrate on completing her education to such extent which assures her with source of livelihood to take care of her necessities and comforts without being dependent upon anyone including her husband. Marriage is a concept which is though important in life but can very well be postponed and takes a backseat when pitched against the all important concept of education. The corpus is expected to pay heed to the aforesaid advice to gain sufficient maturity in life for understanding difference between right and wrong.

To ensure the well-being of the Corpus (an adult woman), the Court directed that the Counsellor under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, having territorial jurisdiction over the area where she decides to reside at, shall submit a fortnightly report on her, to the Court-

To ensure the safety and security of the corpus at the place of her choice of residence, the councillor under the J.J. Act having territorial jurisdiction over the area where the corpus shall henceforth resides, shall submit a fortnightly report about well being of the corpus especially as to whether the corpus is pursuing academic career uninterruptedly or not. This case is kept pending awaiting a fortnightly report of the councillor about the well being of the corpus from the place of her choice of residence.

With the aforesaid observations, the Court by way of writ of habeas corpus, directed Nari Niketan to release the Corpus to enable her to exercise her fundamental right to personal liberty, enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Court kept the case pending, awaiting a fortnightly report of the Counsellor about the well-being of the Corpus from the place of her choice of residence.

Case Title: FAISAL KHAN Vs THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH AND OTHERS

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 43

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