A woman who has attained the age of majority has the right to live her life on her own terms, the Allahabad High Court recently declared in unequivocal terms.
A bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal went on to direct police protection for safe passage of an inter-faith couple after considering the fact that the woman had expressed her desire to live with her husband, Salman.
“As the corpus (woman) has attained the age of majority and she has a choice to live her life on her own terms and she has expressed that she wants to live with her husband Salman @ Karan, she is free to move as per her own choice without any restriction or hindrance being created by third party,” the Court said.
The Court, therefore, set aside an order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Etah who had handed over the custody of the woman to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Etah which, in turn, had handed over the woman to her parents.
The Court also directed the investigating officer (IO) to grant appropriate protection to the couple till they return to their residence.
The Court placed reliance on the date of birth mentioned in the school certificate in which it was clearly mentioned that the woman was born on October 4, 1999.
The CJM had relied on the birth certificate of the woman which was registered in 2019.
The High Court, however, said that as per Section 94 of the Juvenile Justice Act, the birth certificate will not take precedence over the school certificate.
“The learned CJM Etah vide order dated December 7, 2020 had handed over the corpus in the custody of CWC, Etah which on December 8, 2020 handed over the custody to her parents without any application of mind and against her wish. The act of CJM, Etah and that of the CWC, Etah reflects lack of appreciation of legal provisions,” the Court concluded.
Accordingly, the FIR filed under Sections 366 IPC (Kidnapping a woman to compel her to marry a person against her will) against the husband was quashed.