Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: J.J. Munir, J., directed that the minor in the instant case who stated that she married the accused of her free will, be housed in a State facility or shelter home which shall be other than a Nari Niketan or a home meant for delinquents, till she attains the age of eighteen years.

Chhavi a minor was the daughter of Chhanga who is the second petitioner. He had filed an FIR against Laxman under Sections 363 and 366 of Penal Code, 1860.

It was stated that Chhanga’s minor daughter had gone to fetch her cattle when the three accused were seen around her, after which she went traceless. A video was made viral by the co-accused in which it was shown that Chhavi was in the company of Laxman. Hence another FIR was registered under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Chhavi in her statement before the Magistrate stated that she had accompanied Laxman of her free will and was in love with him. Further, it was added that she married Laxman and was now in her family way.

After investigation, a charge-sheet had been filed against Laxman under Sections 363, 366, 376 of IPC and Section 7/4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Bench noted that Chhavi was staying of her freewill without any compulsion, duress or pressure, which clearly implies that she was not in any kind of illegal confinement.

Whether Chhavi is within her rights under the law to stay of her freewill with Meena, who is Laxman’s sister, the man she has married?

If it were to be held that Chhavi was a minor on the date she married Laxman, a subsidiary question that would also be of some consequence to the parties’ future is, whether the marriage would be void or voidable?

With regard to the determination of age, Bench stated that principles applicable to the determination of age in the case of a juvenile would in terms apply to cases of determination of the age of a victim as well.

Bench noted that the provisions of Section 94(2) of the Act of 2015 spare no room for the Court to look into any evidence, in the face of date of birth certificate from the school or the matriculation, or an equivalent certificate from the examination board.

A plain reading of Section 94 of 2015, Act would reveal that only in absence of: (a) the date of birth certificate from the school, or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination Board; and (b) the birth certificate given by a corporation or a municipal authority or a panchayat, age is to be determined by an ossification test or any other latest medical age determination test conducted on the orders of the Committee or the Board.

Therefore, notwithstanding the prosecutrix’s stand that she is 20-years-old and has married Laxman of her freewill, she cannot be heard to prove her age anything different from what it is recorded in her high school certificate.

Hence, Chhavi was to be held a minor on the date of her marriage and till date. CWC ordered her to be given in the foster care of Laxman’s sister.

Further, the Court added that even if Chhavi’s case that she married Laxman of her freewill were accepted, she cannot be permitted to live in the foster care of his sister, where access to each other cannot be guarded.

In view of the above discussed High Court held that so long as Chhavi is a minor, irrespective of the validity of her marriage to Laxman, she cannot be permitted to be placed in a position where there is a likelihood of carnal proximity. If it were permitted, it would be an offence both under the Penal Code and under the Act of 2012.

The Supreme Court decision in Independent Thought v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 800 completely excludes the possibility of sanctioning or decriminalising carnal relations between a man and his wife, the wife being below the age of 18 years.

It is not difficult to infer that in the home, where Laxman’s sister Meena stays with her in-laws, Chhavi cannot be extended the protective cover envisaged for a girl below the age of 18 years, insulating her from any kind of sexual activity, even with her husband.

Validity of Chhavi’s marriage to Laxman

Court opined that, the validity of the marriage must be examined in order to do substantial justice to the parties.

Marriage of a minor child to be void in certain circumstances.–Where a child, being a minor-

(a) is taken or enticed out of the keeping of the lawful guardian; or

(b) by force compelled, or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place; or

(c) is sold for the purpose of marriage; and made to go through a form of marriage or if the minor is married after which the minor is sold or trafficked or used for immoral purposes, such marriage shall be null and void.

Since nothing was recorded by the Judicial Magistrate that may have attracted the provision of Section 12 of the  Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Thus, Chhavi’s marriage to Laxman was not a void marriage; rather a voidable marriage at the option of Chhavi, by virtue of Section 3 of the Act.

Lastly, the Bench held that Chhavi, after she turns a major or even before that, can petition the competent court to have the marriage annulled, and she could do so within two years of attaining majority. Of course, she can acknowledge and elect to accept the marriage.

Adding to its conclusion in view of the above discussion, Court stated that all that Chhavi chooses to do is not this Court’s determination, but it is to clarify the inter se rights of parties vis-à-vis their marriage, that the Court has ventured to examine the legal status of the marriage, which Chhavi supports as her voluntary act, while a minor.

In the opinion of this Court, under the circumstances, Chhavi has to be housed in a State facility or shelter home which shall be other than a Nari Niketan or a home meant for delinquents. She has to be accommodated in a safe home/shelter home with all necessary facilities, where she and her child can stay comfortably, till she attains the age of eighteen years.

Habeas Corpus Petition was allowed in view of the above. [Chhavi (Minor) v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 219, decided on 10-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Petitioner: Ajay Kumar

Counsel for Respondent :G.A., ,Pankaj Kumar Govil, Pankaj Govil

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Salil Kumar Rai, J., allowed a writ petition quashing the orders passed by the Deputy Director of Consolidation, Kushinagar and the Settlement Officer of Consolidation, Kasya, District-Kushinagar and remanding back to the Settlement Officer of Consolidation, Kasya, District-Kushinagar to pass fresh orders in accordance with law stating that Will dated 29-3-1946 was admissible in evidence and was relevant under Section 32(5) of the Evidence Act, 1872 to decide the pedigree of respondent 3 and had to be considered by the SOC and the DDC while assessing the different evidence filed by the parties to prove or disprove the pedigrees as pleaded by them.

The present writ petition arises from proceedings registered under Section 9-A(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1953. One Gaya was the original tenure holder of the disputed plots. Shivraji was the widow of Gaya. Munia was the daughter of Gaya and Shivraji. Gaya died before the date of vesting as defined in Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 and in the revenue records of 1359 Fasli and 1379 Fasli Shivraji was recorded as tenant of the disputed plots. After the death of Shivraji, the petitioners were recorded as tenants of the disputed plots and continued to be recorded as such in the basic year records of the village, i.e., the records available on the date the notification under Section 4(2) of the Act, 1953 was published notifying the village under consolidation operations. During the consolidation operations, the respondent 3 filed objections against the entries in the basic year records claiming himself to be the sole tenant of the disputed plots. On the objections of respondent 3, Case no. 1016 under Section 9-A(2) of the Act, 1953 was registered before the Consolidation Officer, Hata at Kasya, District-Deoria. The case set up by respondent 3 was that Gaya and Shivraji had two sons, namely Thakur and Pheku, and respondent 3 was the son of Thakur. Thakur died before Gaya. It was the case of respondent 3 that Pheku had died issueless, therefore, the share of Pheku also devolved on respondent 3. The petitioners contested the case set up by respondent 3. The petitioners denied that Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Gaya or that respondent 3 was the grandson of Gaya. However, the petitioners admitted that Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Shivraji. The case of the petitioners was that Gaya had only one daughter namely Munia, and the petitioners were the sons of Munia. The petitioners alleged that, before her marriage with Gaya, Shivraji was married to one Budhai, resident of Village-Khairatiya and Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Budhai. The petitioners alleged that Thakur and Pheku came with Shivraji after her marriage to Gaya. On their aforesaid pleadings, the petitioners claimed to be the tenants of the disputed plots under Section 171(2)(h) of the Act, 1950 because they were the sons of the daughter of Gaya. In the alternative, the petitioners also alleged that before his death, Gaya had executed a registered Will dated 29.3.1946 bequeathing his entire property, including the disputed plots, in favour of petitioner 1.

On the aforesaid pleadings, the petitioners prayed that the objections of respondent 3 be rejected and the entries in the basic year records be retained. The consolidation courts have rejected the Will on the ground that Gaya had no transferable interest in the suit property and, therefore, the Will was void.

The Court while allowing the petition explained that ‘Void’ and ‘non-est’ are two different concepts. The concept of void refers to the enforceability of a contract/document/ transaction and when a contract or a document is referred as void it implies that the same is not legally enforceable.

‘Non-est’ means ‘non-existent’ and is used to deny the execution of the document itself. A void document is not necessarily ‘non-est’. It is only an existing document which a party can plead to be ‘void’. If a document is void then it cannot be sued upon and enforced but the aforesaid does not mean that other legal consequences of the document shall not follow. [Bhrigurasan v. D.D.C., 2020 SCC OnLine All 767 , decided on 11-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Sudhir Mittal, J., addressed a matter of registration of marriage.

Issue in focus 

Application for registration of marriage was filed in the year 2019, yet the same has not been registered till date.

Counsel for the petitioners submit that petitioner 2 was below 21 years of age on the date of marriage and thus it is in violation of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

However, in view of Section 11 and 12 of HMA, marriage was only voidable. Parties did not seek to avoid marriage and thus, there is no legal bar on registration of the same.

Bench

In view of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, in case a marriage is solemnized in violation of the age restriction laid down therein, the marriage is only voidable.

Since parties have not sought the annulment of marriage the same is being sought to get registered and thus there is no legal bar to its registration.

Court directed Respondents 2 to 4 to ensure that the marriage be registered within 2 weeks. [Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 759 , decided on 15-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of KH. Nobin Singh, J., dismissed an application filed for dismissal of Election Petition on the ground that it violates Section 100 of Representation of People Act, 1951 where grounds for declaration of election as void are given.

The applicant filed this application for dismissal of election petition filed by the respondent raising flaws in it. In the petition, the respondent contended that the applicant in his affidavit filed along with nomination paper had not given complete information. The applicant did not mention anything about the FIR filed against him. He also left many columns blank i.e. incomplete form and the Returning Officer could not have accepted the nomination. Whereas the applicant defended himself by stating that in one of the cases filed against him he had already been discharged. The allegation which the respondent had accused of were misconceived and unfounded which require strict proof. It was also submitted that RO of 4-Kshetrigao Assembly Constituency had accepted all nomination papers in the presence of respondent during which the respondent made no objection but now that he was not elected the same process had been put into scrutiny. The applicant opposed election petition on the ground that it does not contain material facts as required under Section 83(1)(a).

The High Court was of the view that Section 83(1)(a) which states that an election petition should contain material facts on which petitioner relies had been substantially complied with and election petition cannot be stopped at this stage. Therefore, the application was devoid of merit and was dismissed. [Nahakpam Indrajit Singh v. Md. Amin Shah,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 115, order dated 17-09-2018]