In an interim relief to a couple who had married out of love against parental wishes, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the proceedings in a habeas corpus plea filed by the wife's father in Rajasthan High Court.
The couple, originally belonging to Rajasthan, settled in Mumbai after marriage . The father of the wife filed a habeas corpus petition in the Rajasthan High Court alleging that his daughter was abducted by the man and was under his illegal detention.
In response, the HC asked the police officials in Mumbai to ascertain from the woman if she was living with the man based on her consent. The woman told the police that she had voluntarily married the man, and that she did not wish to go to Rajasthan as she apprehended danger to her life there.
Despite this report from police indicating that the woman was not under illegal detention of the man, the High Court ordered her appearance before it.
In this backdrop, the husband filed a transfer application in the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of the case to Bombay High Court, on the ground that the couple apprehended danger to life in Rajasthan.
The SC bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose court went on to express its displeasure at the High Court's insistence regarding the couple being produced before them despite the girl having communicated to the police, on at least two occassions, that she had voluntarily married her husband and did not wish to go to Rajasthan because they apprehended that their lives were in danger.
Appearing for the petitioner-husband, Advocate Avi Tandon informed the bench that the couple got married voluntarily in 2018 and have a child. The parents of the girl, who hail from Rajasthan, were against their marriage because he belonged to a lower caste, and have threatened to kill the couple. It was further submitted that the woman's father had filed a false case of Habeas Corpus alleging that his daughter had been abducted. Given the sensitivity of the situation, the couple feared for their lives and sought a transfer of the case to Bombay High Court, where they are residing.
The woman, who was present before the SC bench, produced documents to show that she was an adult and clarified that she had chosen to get married voluntarily and wished to stay with her husband. The court was further appraised that the Rajasthan High Court had directed police officials in Mumbai to ascertain her wishes, pursuant to which, on at least two occasions, she had communicated her disinclination to go to Rajasthan. She had also told the police that she voluntarily entered into matrimony and chose to stay with her husband.
The bench recorded the above, and expressed its displeasure at the Rajasthan High Court's order seeking production of the couple, despite having all these statements on record before them. "Despite this statement, the High Court insisted on the production of [the woman] before the High Court. The petitioner and his wife who are present before us, apprehend of danger to their life if they go to Rajasthan", it was recorded. Taking note of the woman's statement, notice was issued. Interestingly, the Bench also indicated that they were inclined to quash the proceedings before the next date of hearing in the High Court, something that is usually not delved into while hearing a transfer petition, especially in a Habeas Corpus matter.
(Identities of parties kept anonymous)