Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: R. Pongiappan, J., observed that:

“…saptpadi for Hindus is the necessary requirement, which if completed make a marriage valid in the eyes of law provided the parties are of sound mind and don’t fall within the prohibited degrees of relationship with each other.”

Instant appeal was filed to set aside the judgment and conviction passed by Sessions Judge.

Accused was charged for the offences under Sections 366 and 376(1) of Penal Code, 1860.

Analysis and Decision

Bench noted that in respect to alleged marriage, PW 10 who is the victim girl had stated before the trial Court that on the date of occurrence, both herself and the accused ran away from the village and accused tied thali to her. In light of the said evidence, it appeared that the victim girl had also consented for the marriage.

Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the State contended that since the alleged marriage had happened to the victim was at the age of 15 years and 10 months, the said marriage is not legally valid and also the same has not been solemnised as per Hindu rites and customs.

This Court also found that the girl had not completed the age of 16 years at the time of above-stated alleged marriage for which she consented

Further, the Bench observed that during the time of occurrence, the accused had induced the victim girl to go to Palani and afterwards, he tied a thali, Section 361 of IPC was referred which talks about the “kidnapping from lawful guardianship”.

Applying the abovesaid provision along with Section 366 IPC, Court stated that the victim girl was kidnapped for the purpose of marrying her.

Void Marriage

“… a marriage in which either the girl is below 18 years of age, or the boy is below 21 years of age is child marriage.”

Court expressed that in our country, the essential condition for the validity of any marriage is solemnization of the religious ceremonies prescribed by the religion to which the parties belong.

In respect to the instant matter, it was found that the accused and victim girl had not performed the necessary religious ceremonies prescribed by the religion and since the victim girl was of 16 years of age, the alleged marriage with the accused was void.

Sexual Intercourse

With regard to alleged forcible sexual intercourse, it was found that victim girl stayed the accused for a considerable period but during that time, she did not seek for help or even try running away from the place, the said attitude of the victim girl proves that the alleged sexual intercourse had happened only with her consent.

Section 375 IPC

As per the definition of Section 375 IPC, since the victim girl had not completed the age of 18 years at the time of occurrence, according to 6th description of the said Section, Court found that the accused had committed an offence of rape.

Therefore trial Court’s finding of charging the accused under Sections 366 and 376(1) IPC was within four corners of law and no infirmity was found in the said findings.

Since both the victim girl and accused got married themselves and separated along with respective spouses, Court modified the sentence as 5 years instead of 7 years under Section 366 IPC and for the offence under Section 376(1) IPC, Court modified the sentence as 7 years instead of 10 years.

Hence, the Criminal Appeal was partly allowed.[Prakash v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 6025, decided on 30-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

For Appellant: B. Thirumalai for S.Nagarajan

For Respondent: S. Karthikeyan Additional Public Prosecutor

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J., while addressing a matter with regard to provision of maintenance, observed that,

When one statute ensures maintenance for the person to be in the relationship in the nature of marriage, the other statute cannot be interpreted to abrogate the provision relating to grant of maintenance.

Petitioner has questioned the legality of Judgment passed by the Family Court, West Tripura Agartala on 17-06-2019, wherein the petitioner was asked to pay maintenance of Rs 4000 to the respondent.

Crux of the challenge

Marriage of a woman with a man while his spouse is alive and their marital relation has not come to an end, the marriage is a complete nullity.

Thus, any court invoking its jurisdiction under Section 125 of the CrPC cannot pass two different maintenance orders against the person considering two women as his spouse. Thus, it has been contended that the respondent is not entitled to maintenance.

Facts

Petitioner was married to Sabitri Das at the time of the alleged marriage with respondent, the marriage with respondent in this situation is not even legal.

Even though the petitioner had a spouse living at the relevant point of time, but the fact was grossly suppressed from the respondent at the time of the marriage.

Purpose of Section 125 of the CrPC is well noted in K. Vimal v. K. Veeraswammy, (1991) 2 SCC 375 in the following words:

“Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is meant to achieve a social purpose. The object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution. It provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.”

Benjamin N. Cardozo in The Nature of Judicial Process observed that,

“…The social context judging had also been recognized in the legal maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat. Where alternative constructions are possible, the court must give effect to that which will be responsible for smooth-working of the system for which purpose the statute has been enacted rather than one which will put a road block in its way.”

A woman who lived like a wife and in the perception she was treated as the wife cannot be deprived of the maintenance. For this purpose a co-terminus provision for granting maintenance may be looked into and a uniformity in the definition may be brought in.

In the present matter, respondent was not aware of the fact that the petitioner was already married, but they both have lived for 10 years as husband and wife.

Petitioner failed to disprove the above-stated and in view of the said no infirmity was found in the Family Court’s decision.

High Court has added to its decision that,

Failure in making payment shall be dealt with sternly.[Sri Bibhuti Ranjan Das v. Gouri Das, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 280 , decided on 07-07-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a unique case where a 19-year-old girl Thushara, who had married a 19-year-old boy Nandakumar on 12.04.2017, was sent to the custody of her father by the Kerala High Court on the ground that Thushara was not lawfully wedded to Nadakumar as Nandakumar was not of a marriageable age, the bench of Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ removed Thushara from the custody of her father & held that the freedom of choice would be of Thushara as to with whom she wants to live.

The present case holds strong similarities to the Hadiya case, where a father had sought the custody of his major daughter as she had married a man of her choice. In the present case as well, Thushara’s father had alleged that she was in illegal custody of Nandakumar and hence, her custody should be entrusted to her. The High Court noticed the fact that Nandakumar will be attaining the marriageable age of 21 years on 30.05.2018 & hence, Thushara was not lawfully wedded wife. The High Court also remarked that apart from the photographs of marriage which were produced in the High Court, there was no evidence to show that a valid marriage was solemnised between the parties. Hence, the custody of Thushara, who was already a major when she married Nandakumar, was entrusted to her father.

When Nandakumar approached the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court, the Court noticed that merely because Nandakumar was less than 21 years of age, it cannot be said that marriage between the parties is null and void. The Court said that both the parties are Hindus and such a marriage is not a void marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and as per the provisions of section 12, which can be attracted in such a case, at the most, the marriage would be a voidable marriage.

Noticing that both the parties were major at the time of marriage, the Court said:

“Even if they were not competent to enter into wedlock (which position itself is disputed), they have right to live together even outside wedlock. It would not be out of place to mention that ‘live-in relationship’ is now recognized by the Legislature itself which has found its place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”

The Court also took note of the 3-judge bench verdict in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. & Ors.’ [2018 SCC Online SC 343, wherein it was held:

“It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual’s life has its own significance. She/He is entitled to make her/his choice. The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae. The daughter is entitled to enjoy her freedom as the law permits and the court should not assume the role of a super guardian being moved by any kind of sentiment of the mother or the egotism of the father. We say so without any reservation.”

[Nandakumar v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 492, decided on 20.04.2018]