The Patna High Court has observed that societal approval of intimate personal relationships is not a basis for granting them recognition in the eyes of law.
The bench of Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Purnendu Singh was essentially dealing with a habeas corpus plea moved by one Amit Raj, seeking production of her wife (allegedly detained by her family members).
Pursuant to the Court's order, the girl/wife was produced before the Court wherein the Court asked her whether she had married the petitioner voluntarily, to which she said yes and expressed her willingness to reside with him.
After the Court got convinced that the marriage between the petitioner/husband and the respondent no.10/wife was genuine and ascertained that they wanted to continue with the marriage, the father of the girl, despite having some reservations initially, accepted the relationship, but said that his only concern was that his daughter should be safe and secure.
To this, the family members of the petitioner took a clear stand that the girl would be accepted in the house as a family member, would be given her due status and respect as the wife of the petitioner, and further, that they would not only not come in the way of the respondent no.10 pursuing what she wants academically or in life but would also actively support her in any such endeavor, which she may wish to pursue.
In view of this, stressing that a girl, if major, is free to marry and/or reside with any one of her choice, the High Court referred to an array of decisions delivered by the Supreme Court to underscore that a woman's choice of selecting her partner is a facet duly recognized by our Constitution.
"The consent of the family/clan/community is unnecessary for two individuals to marry – it is an act of choice, and enshrined under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution...the free ability of a person to decide on matters like marriage cannot be limited, and further, that societal approval of intimate personal relationships is not a basis for granting them recognition in the eyes of law," the Court further added,
In view of the aforesaid discussion, the girl, without opposition from his father was permitted to accompany the petitioner/husband and go with him to the matrimonial home from the Court itself.
To facilitate such exercise, the petitioner and his family members, and the wife were directed to visit the office of the SSP, Patna so that the modalities with regard to ensuring the safety and security of the wife could be worked out.
The Court also ensured the safety and well-being of the petitioner and his wife and made an order to this effect. Further, a Title Suit before the Sub-Judge 1st, Gopalganj for declaring her marriage with the petitioner as null and void was dismissed by the Court.
Case title - Amit Raj v. The State of Bihar and others [Criminal Writ Jurisdiction Case No.511 of 2022]
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Pat) 20