In a massive win for free will, the Supreme Court stated on Monday that a 26-year-old woman was free to live as per choice after being forced to marry against her wishes on March 14. The woman, who is the daughter of a Karnataka politician, is a computer engineer. She was interested in pursuing a masters’ program, and had also made her unwillingness to marry the man chosen by her family known multiple times. However, her family did not heed her wishes.
According to reports, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, DY Chandrachud, AM Khanwilkar said, “You are a major. You are independent to go wherever you want to go and pursue whatever you wish to.” The bench added, “She can go to any place she desires to. Parents or any family member of ‘X’, the husband or his family members, cannot create any obstacle in the path of the woman.”
The woman, christened ‘X,’ is represented by senior lawyer Indira Jaising. Twenty days after being forcefully married on March 14, she fled her natal home in Gulbarga and went to Delhi. There, the woman was under the care of Delhi Commission for Women and was also under police protection in the national capital. Jaising also told the court that the family of the woman had taken away all her documents including her educational certificates and Aadhaar card.
Jaising had initially approached the court seeking for an annulment of the marriage arguing that her client had not consented to the marriage. This was dismissed by the apex court which said that she would have to approach the family court if she wanted the marriage annulled. The bench had said, “Any marriage performed with consent obtained by coercion or force or fraud can be a ground for divorce. It cannot be a ground for annulment of marriage and the provision will not become ultra vires.”
The young woman feared for her safety due to threats from her family and asked for police protection to be able to study in Bengaluru. “Her brother, supported by her mother, had threatened to rape her,” said Jaising.
The court has also ordered for the woman’s documents, including education certificates, to be handed over to her via advocate-on-record Sunil Fernandes.
Advocate Basava Patil, who was representing the woman’s parents in court, said that the parents would not take coercive action against the woman. He added that her belongings, and relevant documents would be transferred to her. “She need not apprehend anything. There will be no interference with her life from the parents. All things she desires will be given back to her,” Patil said.