In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||LAXMIBAI CHANARAGI V. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA|
|CITATION||Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 359 of 2020|
|DATE OF THE JUDGEMENT||February 8, 2021|
|APPELLATE||Laxmibai Chandaragi B. And Another|
|RESPONDENT||State of Karnataka and Others|
|BENCH/ JUDGE||Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy|
|STATUTES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||Constitution of India; Criminal Procedure Code,1973;|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS INVOLVED||Constitution of India – Article 21 and 32 Criminal Procedure Code – Section 154 and 482|
A writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by two petitioners namely, Laxmibai Chandragi B., petitioner No.1 and Mr. Santosh Yadav, petitioner No.2. It was filed as a result of the dual jurisdiction that arose of her residing with Mr. Santosh in Uttar Pradesh while she hailed from Karnataka. It was on this notice that the petition was filed as they had eloped and married while they have been receiving threats from the uncle of petitioner No.1, they decided to take shelter under the shade of the court.
Jt. Sanjay Kaul quoted Dr. B.R. Ambedkar ‘Annihilation of Caste’:
“I am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish. Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste.”
No doubt the marriages in India are celebrated with extreme pomp and show. It is considered as a custom to be followed to bring two people together so that the society accepts their relation yet there are certain shortcomings to this passage of marriage as it does not seem as swift as it looks. The traditional rituals and customs surrounding the marriage are still prevalent in India despite the fact that the western process has started colouring the Indians, there are still some roller coaster drives that do not let Indians be at par with other countries and one of the reasons could be large number of opponents of inter-caste marriage.
Inter -caste marriage also known as marrying out of caste, it is involving or occurring between, people of two or more castes. It is an exogamous form of marriage and it is considered as socially unacceptable by many South Asian countries. Multi-variate statistics exhibit that if women are allowed to choose their life-partner, caste takes a rear-seat in marriage contemplation.
“Odds of inter-caste marriage taking place in Dalit (lowest social standing) households is much lesser than the higher caste. Resilient targeted efforts are necessary to promote inter-caste marriage, which may loosen the noose of the caste system in India.”
FACTS OF THE CASE
According to the petition filed, a complaint was filed in the Murgod Police Station, Savadatti Taluk, Belagavi district by Mr. Basappa Chandragi. The complaint was filed by him on the account that his daughter Laxmibai Chandragi (petitioner No. 1) was missing since 14. 10.2020. Thus, an FIR was registered (FIR No. 226/2020), the investigating officer recorded the statement of the Laxmibai’ s parents and her relatives and also took a note of all the call details.
While investigating it was found that the petitioner No. 1, unknown to her parents, took a flight from Hubli to Bangalore and then finally landing in Delhi from Bangalore. After reaching Delhi, she married Mr. Santosh Yadav (petitioner No. 2) without the consent of her parents. Thereafter, she decided to send her marriage certificate to her parents which she did through social media platform namely WhatsApp on 15.10.2020, through this she revealed her marriage with petitioner No.2 to her parents. Apparently, the investigating officer paid a visit to the petitioner No. 2’s house in Ghaziabad where it was disclosed by his parents that they do not have any information of the whereabouts of the petitioners. Nonetheless, Laxmibai had a talk with the investigating officer (IO) that she had already married Santosh and was residing with him still the IO forced the petitioner No. 1 to record a statement in Murgod police station so that the case can be closed. Petitioner No. 1 on receiving the notice of IO replied through a letter that she won’t be able to visit the station as she has menaces from her parents. The case was not closed by the investigating officer, the petitioners instead received threats to come back to Karnataka otherwise a false case shall be registered against her husband, petitioner No. 2.
“It is the case of the petitioners that the uncle of petitioner No.1 was threatening them. On the petitioners approaching the Allahabad High Court on 19.10.2020, seeking protection for themselves and the family members, the matter could not be taken upon even after about a period of one month for urgent hearing.”
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
- Does marriage require consent from parents?
- Does Article 21 extend to right to marry a person of one’s choice?
- Are there any guidelines for handling such sensitive issues that are mandatory to be followed by the police?
ARGUMENTS FROM THE APPELLATE SIDE
- The learned counsel appearing for the petitioners contended that despite petitioner No. 1 sent a letter stating her reasons for not being able to visit the Murgod Police station as there were life threatening issues from her parents, the investigating officer did not close the case.
- He further argued that in the transcript submitted to the court of the conversation between the petitioner No. 1 and the police where it was identified that the IO was asking her to reach Karnataka at the earliest otherwise a false case would be filed by her family members on petitioner 2 of kidnapping and that would surely have an outright effect on his job.
- He also mentioned that her family members with the help of the IO would file a case of stealing things from home if she did not come down to Karnataka that would also prove dreadful for the job of petitioner No. 2.
- He made the court view that both the petitioners are highly learned and well-equipped people. “The petitioner No.2 is an MTech from NIT, Tiruchirappalli, while petitioner No.1-wife, is an M.A.Ed. The petitioner No.2 had got a placement as an Assistant Professor in Jain College of Engineering, Belagavi, Karnataka while the petitioner No.1 was a Lecturer in KLES (Karnataka Lingayat Education Society) Pre-University College, Bailhongal and it appears that they developed liking for each other during these assignments.”
- Thus, he ended by saying that the parents of petitioner No.1 were not willing to have their daughter married to petitioner No. 2 while the parents of petitioner No. 2 had no objection.
ARGUMENTS FROM THE RESPONDENT SIDE
- The learned counsel appealed that since the petitioner No.1’s parents did not find their daughter; an FIR was lodged by the investigating officer.
- He also argued that the investigating officer wanted to close the case so he called upon Laxmibai to visit Murgod police station.
- Learned counsel opposed the statement that the investigating officer had ever threatened the petitioner.
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
- ARTICLE 21 – “Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”
- ARTCLE 32 – Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part
- The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
- The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this part
- Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2)
- The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE
SECTION 154 – Information in cognizable cases.
- Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
- A copy of the information as recorded under sub- section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
- Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in subsection (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.
- SECTION 482 – Saving of inherent powers of High Court. Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
The apex court condemned the conduct of the police authorities stating that the investigating officer after having received the certificate of marriage and his conversation with the petitioner No.1 where it was crystal clear when she reiterated that she was married to petitioner No.2 and would not be able to reach the police station for the statement to be recorded as she had threat from her parents, the officer did not attempt to visit the petitioner No. 2’ s residence and record the statement of petitioner No.1 at their residence. Moreover, the officer went against the ethics and agreed to the demands of parents of Laxmibai to a false case against petitioner No. 2 if she did not come back to Karnataka to record her statement. The court ordered to send the investigating officer for counselling to learn how to handle cases alike. The court was of the opinion that had the IO performed his job well, the court would not have intervened in this case. Therefore, the court ordered that the apart from counselling the current IOs, a training programme should be organized to deal with such cases, they added that the police authorities should immediately take actions in the next eight weeks to lay down standards to deal with such cases.
The court took cognizance of the earlier pronouncements such as the Shakti Vahini V. Union of India wherein it was held that the individuals who are adult do not have to take consent from “the family or the community or the clan” necessarily and that their decision to marry should be given priority. Another case referred to by the honourable court was Asha Ranjan V. State of Bihar where it was observed that the dignity of an individual can only be maintained when he has a choice: “the choice of an individual is an inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice.” Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb to the concept of ‘class honour’ or ‘group thinking.’
In Shafin Jahan V. Ashokan K.M., the court observed that the society was emerging through a crucial transformational period.
The court threw light the concept that right to marry a person of one’s choice is an integral part of Article 21 and hence in this context they referred to the landmark judgement of K.S. Puttaswamy case, where the court ruled that “where the autonomy of an individual inter alia in relation to family and marriage were held to be integral to the dignity of the individual.”
The court further quashed the FIR No. 226/2020 dated 15.10.2020 stating that no further proceeding is required and hoped that the parents of Petitioner No. 1 would accept this marriage to “re-establish social network not only with Petitioner No. 1 but even with Petitioner No. 2.”
With the world under the realm of development and modernization, the thought process and the etiquette are changing. India is no exception to this cause and effect as it is visible that now adult individuals wish to work independently, outside the rules and regulations of the society with no to force and apprehend them regarding any decision of their life. Inter – caste marriages should not be seen as a taboo rather it should be welcomed with open arms as it will lead to better socialization and unity amongst different group of people.
It is through the youngsters that the society will witness a change and that change should be accepted by the elders instead of being a barrier to a road that will lead to harmony and integrity.
“Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such inter marriage but in the meantime these youngsters face threats from the elders and the Courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters.”
 Author is 3rd Semester Student of Amity Law School, Lucknow.
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 INDIA CONST. art 21.
 INDIA CONST. art 32, cl. 1.
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 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, § 154(1), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973(India).
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 Shakti Vahini V. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 192.
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