Dealing with the case of a minor girl who performed the marriage with a man with her own free will, the Punjab & Haryana High Court ruled:
"The husband is in relationship with the Girl and in terms of Sections 19 and 21 of the Guardians and Wards Act read with Sections 6, 10 and 13 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, he (husband) has a right to hold as the natural guardian of the minor Hindu girl who is married to him which as per the statute is the girl's husband."
The Bench of Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill further added it cannot be said that there is an element of taking away or enticing her.
The matter before the Court
The Court was hearing a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of FIR registered under Section 346 IPC and later on added Sections 363, 366 IPC.
The petitioner (Husband) submits that the he had solemnized marriage with respondent No. 3-Gulista (Wife) in March 2020 and the marriage certificate had been annexed and it was submitted that she herself fled away with the petitioner and thereafter performed marriage willingly.
The Girl averred before the Court and in her statements recorded with the authorities that she on her own volition married the Man and had been residing with him since their marriage.
The Court that the Girl (Gulista) was alleged to be minor at the time of performing marriage but the fact remains that she has performed marriage with the petitioner with her own free will.
Importantly, the Court observed that:
"Even though the girl at the time of marriage was a minor and under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, though the parents are the legitimate legal guardians and since it is a marriage which is voidable in terms of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 but since the couple has chosen their life partners against the wishes of their parents and are carrying on this relationship living together, this Court can take the cognizance of the fact as per Section 25 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, as the welfare of the ward is of paramount importance, which cannot be ignored."
Further, the Court observed that that the constitutional rights of protection of life and liberty was granted under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Lastly, noting that since the Girl had performed the marriage with the petitioner (Man/Husband) of her own will and had been residing happily with him at her matrimonial home, no useful purpose would be served in allowing the criminal proceedings to continue.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and quashed the case registered under Section 346 IPC and later on added Sections 363, 366 IPC, and all the consequential proceedings, arising therefrom.
Case title - Vikas Tomar v. State of Haryana and others