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Judiciary

SC directs Bengaluru-based parents of woman to set her free [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam Biju      18 January, 2024 11:49 AM      0 Comments
Supreme Court frees woman from familys illegal detention irked by Karnataka HCs insensitive approach

NEW DELHI: In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court came to the rescue of the 25-year-old woman (M) who was detained by her family after her romantic relationship came to light.

“We hold that the continued detention of respondent No.7- M by respondent Nos.4 and 5 is illegal. Hence respondent Nos.4 and 5 shall set her at liberty forthwith and she is permitted to proceed further as per her own wishes”, a Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed while hearing a plea moved by her partner ‘K’. 

The Court also directed to return M’s passport, other important documents and personal belongings back to her within 48 hours. 

K had first moved the Karnataka High Court filing a habeas corpus after being informed that M was illegally detained in Bengaluru by her family. 

The Court was told that claiming that M's devices, passport, belongings and other articles had been kept away in order to prevent her from pursuing a career at Dubai. The Court, after issuing notice and seeking a status report, noted M’s submission that she was forcibly taken from Dubai on the pretext of her grandfather's ill-health and was being forced to enter into an arranged marriage. The matter was adjourned for a total of 14 times. Then the Supreme Court was approached. 

Before the Top Court, M submitted that though she has all the love, respect and affection for her parents, she would like to go back to Dubai and pursue her career. She further stated that though on three occasions she had got interview calls from Dubai for different jobs, she could not attend the same, as she was under detention of her parents. Also, since all important documents including the passport are in the custody of her parents, her position is almost like “house arrest”. 

M's parents, informed the Court that they weren’t against their only daughter's wishes. They only desired that she become financially stable before she takes a decision in life. 

No matter what, a major girl cannot be compelled to do something against her wishes, the Bench expressed.

“M is a grown up girl aged about 25 years. We have personally interacted with her in chambers on three occasions. In the intervals we had interactions with her parents as well as the parents of the petitioner. M is highly qualified. Interaction with her showed that she is mature enough to understand as to what is right and what is wrong for her in her life. In any case a major girl cannot be compelled to do something against her wishes”, it added.

SC questions Karnataka HC’s approach

In an earlier order, the Court while entertaining the plea, had observed that the High Court had moved at a snail’s place. The High Court lacked in sensitivity while hearing a habeas corpus plea, the apex court said. 

“Before we decide the present petition, we must place on record our anguish at the manner in which the High Court of Karnataka has dealt with the present matter. When in a habeas corpus petition the detenue-M had in unequivocal terms expressed before the High Court that she desired to go back to Dubai to pursue her career, the High Court ought to have passed the order setting her at liberty with immediate effect. Adjourning the matter on fourteen occasions and now postponing it indefinitely and posting it in the year 2025 depicts a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the High Court in such a matter," it wrote.

Further, since the High Court did not pass appropriate orders at appropriate stage, it continued the further illegal detention of the detenue.

“Because of such lackadaisical approach, the petitioner and his parents have been compelled to make frequent trips from Dubai to Bengaluru just to ensure the well being of the detenue-M. When the question of liberty of a person is involved even a day’s delay counts," it noted.

[Read Order]



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