A 42-year-old spiritual practitioner has moved the Supreme Court challenging a Kerala High Court order denying the release of his spiritual live-in partner and Yoga Shishya from her parents’ forceful custody.
The petitioner had filed a Habeas Corpus plea before the High Court stating that the 21-year-old woman was forcefully taken from his custody by her parents on October 26, 2020, against her will.
However, “the High Court inadvertently applied the Parents Patriae doctrine, which is only exercised, for the benefit, and in the best interest, of the person who is in need of protection (such as minor or mentally incapacitated persons),” the petition filed through Advocate A Karthik states.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, however, refused to pass any order and adjourned the matter for next week.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said that the High Court had made an inquiry as to his antecedents, which goes against the spirit of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Hadiya case.
“My antecedents has also been directed to be probed. This is what was frowned upon by the Hadiya verdict”, Sankaranarayanan said.
At this point, CJI Bobde questioned the petitioner as regards his claims that he is a spiritual guru.
“We are not discussing the Hadiya case here. What is the proof regarding you being a spiritual guru?” CJI Bobde persisted.
“There is my sworn affidavit,” responded Sankaranarayanan.
CJI Bobde then asked for a copy of the complaint made by the girl to the police alleging that she is under illegal detention. Sankaranarayanan also highlighted a letter written by the girl to the State Human Rights Commission.
“We want to see what the High Court does,” CJI Bobde said after hearing the Senior Counsel.
The Court then adjourned the case while allowing the High Court to proceed with the matter.
The petitioner, a doctor by profession, has submitted that he had completed his Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) qualification from London and later renounced worldly life at the age of 42 and turned to spiritual practice on Vedantha Upanishath.
The plea said that the detenue, 21, is a gold medal winner from college with a “brilliant academic record.”
It is also stated that the Kerala High Court order was passed despite the High Court recording the statement of the detenue wherein “she had clearly stated that she was under illegal custody and stated that she was subjected to physical violence and she had expressed her intention to go with the Petitioner, who is her spiritual live-in partner and acharya.”
It has been averred that the girl was subjected to physical violence and torture by her parents, and that her own independent free will was not taken into consideration.
The petitioner has placed reliance on the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Hadiya case, wherein it was held that what is seminal is to remember that “the song of liberty is sung with sincerity and the choice of an individual is appositely respected and conferred its esteemed status as the Constitution guarantees” and that “parental love or concern cannot be allowed to fluster the right of choice of an adult.”
It has been stated in the plea that the the parents of the detenue were infuriated because she “chose to practice Vedanthic principles of Moksha, Sanyasa and divine yoga with the petitioner.”
The petitioner has further argued that the family of the girl had also resorted to harassing and torturing her, which was evident from several emails sent by her to the petitioner as well as to the Kerala State Human Rights and Women Commission.
“The Detenue being an adult and well-educated woman (who also has a brilliant academic record and has won gold medals in her college) has her freedom to choose her own way of life and casting doubt on her personal preferences by any fashion needs to be curtailed,” the plea states.