HC cites adulthood, rules in favour of corpus

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Mar 2017 11:42:02


Legal Correspondent,

After hearing the habeas corpus petition, the division bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice, S K Gangele and Justice, Subodh Abhyankar on Thursday, has directed that looking at the gravity of the situation, it is hereby directed that a proper police protection be provided to the corpus and the petitioner as well. Superintendent of Police, Indore may also take appropriate steps in this regard so there would not be any danger to life and liberty of the corpus. The corpus be set free from Nari Niketan, Nirbhaya Mahila Ashrit Grih, Bhopal. The police may escort the corpus to the destination, where she wants to live. The division bench has heard the petition filed by Alim Mansuri.


Corpus Sonali Arora was present in person before the court on Thursday. She was brought from Nari Niketan, Nirbhaya Mahila Ashrit Grih, Bhopal by the police. The corpus has submitted that she is a major, her date of birth is March 18, 1996. This fact has not been disputed by the counsel for the State.


Corpus further stated before the court that she has completed BCom degree from Barkatullah University, Bhopal. She emphatically stated that she has friendship with the petitioner and she wants to marry him. She has further stated that she has been living in Nari Niketan, Nirbhaya Mahila Ashrit Grih, Bhopal for the last 45 days and she has not changed her views. She understands her welfare.


Counsel, appearing on behalf of the respondent Harish Arora, contended that the habeas corpus petition is not maintainable because it has not been filed by an appropriate person.
In support of his contention, the counsel relied on the judgment of the apex court passed in the matter of Kishore Samrite versus State of Uttar Pradesh.


Counsel also relied on some unreported judgments of the Kerala High Court and Madras High Court passed in the cases of Sebastian versus Moideen A P and others, Dr Lal Parameshwar versus Ullas N N Nadupurakkal and others and M Senthil Muthu vs The Superintendent of Police and others. Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the
habeas corpus petition is maintainable. A girl, who has attained majority, is free to stay at any place where she likes without being constrained by her parents or alleged husband. In support of his contentions, counsel relied on a three judge bench decision of the apex court passed in the case of Gian Devi vs The Superintendent, Nari Niketan, Delhi and others. The division bench, in its order, said that in the present case, it cannot be said that the petitioner is an alien person or he has no say in the matter because the corpus i.e. girl has categorically stated that she has friendship with the petitioner and she wants to marry him. The corpus is living in Nari Niketan, Nirbhaya Mahila Ashrit Grih, Bhopal for the last 45 days and she has not changed her views. When she is adult, as per law, she has to take decision at her own that where she wants to stay as held by the apex court in Gian Devi case. In the said case, the apex court has held as under:

“The petitioner, having crossed 18 years of age, is sui juris. No fetters can be placed upon her choice of the person with whom she is to stay - the person whom she alleges to have married or the person to whom the father is alleged to have married her - nor can any restriction be imposed regarding the place where she should stay.

The court or the relatives of the petitioner can also not substitute their opinion or preference for that of the petitioner in such a matter. The fact that the petitioner has been cited as a witness in a case is no valid ground for her detention in Nari Niketan against her wishes. Since the petitioner has stated unequivocally that she does not want to stay in Nari Niketan, her detention therein cannot be held to be in accordance with law.

” The division bench said that in view of the law laid down by the apex court, this habeas corpus petition on behalf of the petitioner is maintainable. The corpus has further submitted that she wants to live with the petitioner. Being a major, the corpus is at liberty to live at her own will. She further states that she would live at Indore. Looking to the gravity of the situation, it is hereby directed that a proper police protection be provided to the corpus and the petitioner as well. Superintendent of Police, Indore may also take appropriate steps in this regard so there would not be any danger to life and liberty to the corpus. The corpus be set free from Nari Niketan, Nirbhaya Mahila Ashrit Grih, Bhopal. The police may escort the corpus to the destination where she wants to live. The habeas corpus petition stands disposed off accordingly, the division bench said.