Ilavarasan v. State

By – Peuli Chakraborty (The University of Burdwan, West Bengal)


This case, Ilavarasan v. State, was dealt by the Supreme Court of India. The appellant, Ilavarasan, claimed that his wife, Mathithra, had been taken away by her parents and compelled to get married to her maternal uncle, which was against her will. He initially filed a petition before the High Court, stating that he got married to her, in compliance with section 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act. The High Court straightforwardly set aside the habeas corpus petition, stating the legitimacy of sec 7A of Hindu Marriage Act, in terms of certifying the marriage by the advocates. He then appealed to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court consequently directed the District Legal Service Authority, for the recording of the statement of Mathithra. Mathithra revealed that she married Ilavarasan, aggreably. The Apex Court then interpreted sec 7A of the HMA, and held that the public declaration isn’t at all essential for the solemnization of a legitimate marriage. The Court concluded the willingness of Mathithra, pertaining to living with Ilavarasan and ensured their reconciliation.

KeywordsIlavarasan, Supreme Court, The Writ of Habeas Corpus, The Hindu Marriage Act, Sec 7A.


Judgement Cause TitleIlavarasan v. The Superintendent Of Police & Ors.
Case NumberCr. Appeal No. 6534 of 2023
Judgement DateAugust 28,2023
CourtThe Supreme Court of India
QuorumAravind Kumar, S. Ravindra Bhat
AuthorS. Ravindra Bhat
CitationSC 1120
Legal Provisions InvolvedThe Writ of Habeas Corpus, Article 21 ( Right to Privacy), Sec 7A of HMA,1955.


Marriage is a consecrate fastening, instituted between a man and a woman, called husband and wife ( AKA Spouses). The Husband and Wife are promise bound, with the help of marriage, to carry out and honour this relationship, physically, mentally as well as socially.

In accordance with Hindu Law, marriage is a sacred or consecrate ritual, to be taken into account, where both the bride and the groom performs SAPTAPADI ( a ritual, pertaining to taking up seven steps before the sacred fire, by the bridegroom) and subsequently they turn out be spouses and the marriage is solemnised.

In accordance with the Hindu Law, bride is required to be at the eighteen years of age and the groom is required to be at twenty one years of age, while marrying each other.

Apart from this, for the solemnization of an effective marriage, both the parties must have displayed their free consent. However, if one parties were compelled getting married or could not demonstrate his/her consent due to mental illness or unsoundness of mind, then the marriage shall be voidable, at the option of such party.

The issue raised, in this specific case law, was with regard to the validity of the solemnization of  marriage.The Apex Court held that the public declaration is not required for the solemnization of a valid marriage.


In this case, the appellant, named Ilavarasan, had filed a habeas corpus writ petition, under Art. 226, before the Madras High Court and had alleged that he married Mathithra ( his legally wedded wife), a 21 – year- old lady, in compliance with sec 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. The marriage was solemnized in the presence of advocates and the other social workers. As per his statements and allegations, his wife Mathithra had been confined forcefully by her parents, despite their legitimate marriage, which had been solemnized, in compliance with sec 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The petitioner included that he and Mathithra fell in love with each other and were determined of getting married. However his ladylove, was a minor by that time ( when they fell in love) and due to which, both of them was determined to get married later on.

However, her parents, in this time period, went for a child marriage and compelled her to get married to her maternal uncle. She opposed and declined getting married to him and emphasized her feelings for Ilavarasan. She then abandoned her maternal house with the intent to live with her paramour.

Subsequently, both the petitioner and Mathithra got married discreetly, in the presence of Advocates and other social workers employed at the Trade Union. They complied with sec 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, which exerted the performance of their licit marriage.

Despite the solemnization of their legitimate marriage, Mathithra had once again been taken back by her parents and the petitioner filed a writ petition consequently, praying for her prompt release.

This writ petition was discarded by Madras High Court, stating their incapacity to get rendered with certifying marriages under sec 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act. Consequently the petitioner moved to the Apex Court filing the current appeal.


  • Whether a marriage, that has been taken place in secrecy, without a public declaration, is valid or not, in the eye of law?


The learned counsel, Mr. R. Alagumani contented on behalf of the petitioner before the Madras High Court, that, the detenue opposed to the child marriage, initiated earlier, by her parents and she let her parents know about her philanderer by emphasizing her willingness to live with him. She then joined her philanderer and a special marriage, between them, took place in secrecy, in the presence of the advocates and certain social workers. The marriage was solemnised in accordance with sec 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which was legitimate in the eye of law.

RESPONDENT’S ARGUMENTS ( Before the Madras High Court)

The additional public prosecutor contended on the behalf of the respondents by submitting that, the petitioner kidnapped Mathithra twice and had already been alleged for the same beforehand. The counsel for respondents further added that in order to dissimulate his kidnapping, he filed a writ petition displaying his fake love towards Mathithra, which he actually pretended. The counsel contented that the petitioner harassed both Mathithra and her parents by filing the habeas corpus petition.


The Constitution of India

1.    The Writ of Habeas Corpus“The “Great Writ” of habeas corpus is a fundamental right in the Constitution that protects against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment. Translated from Latin it means “show me the body.” Habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument to safeguard individual freedom against arbitrary executive power”.

2. The Right against Infringement of Privacy – “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

Right against the abasement of privacy, is intrinsic to Right to Life and Personal Liberty and is inherently shielded under Art. 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The Hindu Law                 
1.     Sec 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act – “This special provision legalised self-respect and secular marriages between two Hindus who meet the minimum age requirement for marriage”



The ratio decidendi or the rationale or legal principle, as delivered by the Court, emphasizes that, for the  solemnization of a valid and lawful marriage, under the Hindu Marriage Act ( sec 7A) 1955, a public declaration or dissemination is not required.

The Court, afterwards held that, the couples’, who are getting married, might get confronted with certain hazards and family pressures, on account of the solemnization of the marriage, wherefore, for the purpose of safeguarding their conjugal lives, they opt for the public involvement. Apart from this, Court interpreted sec 7A of the HMA, 1955, to be compatible, in terms of getting married privately, even though there is the presence of a fewer people, in the form of witnesses. The above mentioned elaboration or interpretation unravels the Fundamental Rights, enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which denotes the Right to Privacy, to every individual, in the form of a Fundamental Right.


The antecedent decision of the Madras High Court was looked through by the Court, in the case Balakrishnan Pandiyan v. Inspector of Police (2014) , which demonstrated that the solemnization of a marriage, in secrecy, by ensuring fewer witnesses, shall neither amount to a valid marriage nor solemnization would constitute, under sec 7 and 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

However, the above mentioned perspective was held to be inaccurate.

In addition to this, the Court emphasized the magnitude of the celebration of a marriage along with the declaration of being married. The Court interpreted that, proponents of suyamariyathai or seerthiruththa form of marriage didn’t visualise the performance of marriage in secrecy. The Court, thereaftermanifested the weightiness of marriage celebration as well as the public recognition.

The Court subsequently cited the case S. Nagalingam v. Shivagami, and clarified that, the solemnization of an effective marriage needs to take place, in the presence of the family, relatives and the friends, where a priest is not essential. The basic rituals, such as exchanging of garlands, putting vermillion ( Sindur ) or exchanging of rings are more than sufficient for the completion of a valid and legitimate marriage, under sec 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.


It was observed by the Court, that the parties may conceal the solemnization of their marriage on account of several reasons, especially if both the parties are adult. The marriage might have been hidden due to the family pressure of the bride Mathithra, who was compelled to get married to her maternal uncle and she turned out to be terror haunted of getting confined by her parents once again.

The court further demonstrated regarding the abasement of the Art. 21, that came up in this case. The court emphasized that every single individual possesses the right to choose his/her life partner, which has been guaranteed by Art.21 of the Indian Constitution.

The court further stated that solemnization of their marriage in the presence of the Advocates, doesn’t imply anything illicit in nature. The advocates are recognised to be the Officers of ther Court possessing innumerable authorities. They cannot proceed with being the witnesses during the solemnization of marriage, when they’re in the course of their profession. If the advocates attend a wedding privately being the witnesses of the same, that activity cannot be declared ineffective.

After analysing the above mentioned fact of case along with the judgement, it must be included that we do belong to a narrower and illiberal society, where the women are compelled to get married against her will and it’s quite prevalent even in this twenty first century. It’s quite noticeable even now, that women are coerced by their parents, to get married by immolating their personal choices and career at the same time. Therefore, in this twenty first century and the era of Artificial Intelligence, where the  women are discovered to be quite conceptual and analytical in their career and lives, this type of activities are indeed unanticipated from the parents. An individual ( irrespective of the gender) has the authority to opt for his/her congruous life partner and the parents are expected to embrace such decision, in lieu of opposing it.

Henceforth, the above expounded humiliation by Mathithra’s parents is  abominable and whimsical at the same time. We’d be craving for such Indian Society where everysingle individual would be rewarded with the opportunity to opt for their life partners, without the occurance of any perplexity in the family.


Important Cases Referred

  1. S. Nagalingam v. Sivagami (2001) 7 SCC 487S.
  2. Balakrishnan Pandiyan v Inspector of Police 2014 (7) MadLJ 651

Important Statutes Referred

  • The Writ of Habeas Corpus, Indian Constitution.
  • The Right Against Infringement of Privacy, Article 21, Constitution of India.
  • Sec 7A of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955.

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