Husband is Natural Guardian of Minor Hindu Wife: P&H High Court

While dealing with a case wherein a minor girl who had married a man out of her own free will, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that the husband was in a relationship with the girl and as per Section 21 and 19 of the Guardians and Wards Acts r/w Section 10,13 and 6 of the Hindu Minority and guardianship Act the husband has the right to hold as natural guardian of minor Hindu girl who had married him which according to the statute was the girl’s husband.

Hon’ble Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill added that it couldn’t be said that there was an element of enticing or taking her away.

Background:-

The Court heard a petition u/s 482 CrPC for quashing FIR registered u/s 346 of IPC, and later Section 366 and 363 IPC were added to it.

The petitioner-husband submitted that he had married Gulista (the wife) in March 2020 and annexed the marriage certificate as proof. He further stated that the wife fled away with him out of her own free will and married him willingly. The girl also agreed with the statement.

Court’s observations

Even though it was alleged that the girl was a minor at the time of marriage, the fact remained that she got married willingly.

In its order, the Bench stated that as per the Guardians and Wards Act, parents are legal guardians of a minor, the couple chose each other against their parent’s wishes and were living together; therefore, the Court can take cognisance of facts as per Section 25 of the Act because the welfare of the ward was paramount.

The Court further observed that constitutional rights of liberty and protection are granted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Lastly, the Court opined that no purpose would be served by allowing the instant criminal proceedings to continue as the girl had performed marriage and was happily residing with the husband.

Judgement:-

Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and proceeded to quash the case and all consequential proceedings arising therefrom.

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