Recently, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court ruled that an offence under Section 366 IPC cannot be made out against the Petitioner because the Respondent had married him out of her own free will.
Brief facts of the Case Firoz vs State Of U.P. And 3 Others filed before Allahabad High Court are as follows
The Petitioner filed a petition, and a prayer was made to the Court to quash the FIR dated 07.03.2020 where an offence under Section 366 of IPC was alleged against the Petitioner.
Proceedings Before the Allahabad High Court
Arguments raised by the counsel of the Petitioner:-
The counsel for the Petitioner submitted to the Allahabad High Court that the respondent number 5 was major and was pursuing B.A degree. The counsel stated that she was legally wedded to the Petitioner and was staying with him. It was further argued that as no offence is made out, FIR and criminal proceedings against the Petitioner should be quashed.
Counsel for the Respondent was unable to refute the arguments made by the counsel of the Petitioner.
Reasoning of the Allahabad High Court
Hon’ble Allahabad High Court referred to various judgements of the Supreme Court to adjudicate the instant Case.
In this case, the Supreme Court held that if a person is over the age of eighteen, then no constraints could be placed on him/er. It’s their choice as to where they want to reside and with whom they want to reside. It was further observed that the Court or a person’s relative cannot impose their opinion or preference if a person is a major.
It was further opined by the Hon’ble Court that in a Habeas Corpus petition the scope is just to trace the individual who is stated to be missing and when the person appears in Court and stated that she is a major and was under no undue pressure, the exercise of Court’s jurisdiction is concluded.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that in a habeas corpus petition, all that is needed was to find and produce the person in Court. When the person is produced before the Court and asserts that he/she is a major and had gone by her own will, then the Court cannot exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The Court observed that India was a democratic country and people were free to marry whoever they wanted. The Court directed administration/police authorities throughout the country that strict action should be taken against people who harass majors who undergo inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
Decision of the Allahabad High Court
Hon’ble Judges of Allahabad High Court opined that the Apex Court has consistently respected the liberty of an individual who has attained the age of majority and held that as the respondent no. 5 was a major and had voluntarily married the Petitioner, no offence can be made out under Section 366 of the IPC.
The writ petition was allowed, and FIR dated 07.03.2020 has been quashed.
Title: Firoz Vs State Of U.P. And 3 Others
Case No. Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. – 7726 Of 2020
Date of Order: 06.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Hon’ble Justice Vivek Agarwal
Advocates: Counsel for Petitioner:- Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, Jai Prakash Rao Counsel; for Respondent:- G.A.