Patna HC annuls marriage held at gunpoint 10 years ago

The Patna High Court has annulled the marriage of an Indian Army personnel who was kidnapped and made to enter into wedlock with a woman, at gunpoint, 10 years ago in Bihar.

A division bench comprising Justices P B Bajanthri and Arun Kumar Jha passed the order earlier this month when it also set aside a three-year-old judgement of the family court at Lakhisarai which had refused to pass a decree in favour of the petitioner.

The petitioner Ravi Kant, a native of Nawada district, was abducted by the bride’s family on June 30, 2013, when he was in Lakhisarai to offer prayers at a temple.

The incident was an example of ‘pakadua biyah’, a social evil that has plagued Bihar for years and has been the theme of some movies.

Family members of girls of marriageable age have been taking recourse to the disingenuous method in a bid to avoid paying hefty dowry.

The petitioner fled the bride’s house without consummating the marriage, went to Jammu and Kashmir to resume duty and upon return on leave, moved the family court seeking annulment of the marriage.

His petition was dismissed by the family court on January 27, 2020 following which he filed an appeal before the high court.

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The high court set aside the impugned order observing that the family court took a “flawed” view that the petitioner’s case became “disbelievable” since he did not “immediately” file the suit for annulment of marriage.

“The petitioner has explained the situation and there is no undue delay,” said the court.

The court also cited a Supreme Court judgement to stress that as per Hindu traditions, no wedding could be valid unless ‘saptapadi’ (seven circumambulations of the consecrated fire) was performed.

“The learned family court’s finding that not performing the ritual of ‘saptapadi’ does not mean that marriage has not been performed, is devoid of any merit,” ruled the high court.

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