The Delhi High Court observed that true love between two individuals, one or both of who may be minor or minors on the verge of majority, cannot be controlled through rigours of law or State action.

The Court allowed a Petition filed by an Individual seeking to quash an FIR filed under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor girl (Miss A).

However, the Court noted the girl's testimony of voluntarily entering into a consensual relationship and that allegations of kidnapping and rape were not true.

The Court noted the rare dilemma Courts face, balancing strict legal application with potential societal repercussions on individuals and communities.

The dilemma at times faced by the Court can be of trying to justify the State/Police action against an adolescent couple who married each other and continued to lead a peaceful life and raise a family, and respect for obeying the law of the land. This Court has time and again reached a conclusion that true love between two individuals, one or both of who may be minor or minors on the verge of majority, cannot be controlled through rigours of law or State action”, the Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed.

Advocate Dhiraj Kumar Singh appeared for the Petitioner and Additional Standing Counsel Amol Sinha appeared for the State.

A Petition was filed by an Individual indicted under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) seeking to quash the FIR filed by the Father of his allegedly minor wife (Miss A). The couple (Petitioner and Miss A), belonging to the same religion, opted for marriage following Muslim rites and ceremonies. Regrettably, their union was disrupted when an investigating agency intervened, mandated to operate within the framework of existing laws.

The Court noted that Miss A reiterated that she had voluntarily entered into a consensual relationship with the Petitioner. Despite the State disputing her claim of being 18 years old at the time of the incident, as per school records indicating she was less than 18, Miss A maintained her stance. The Court observed that at the time of the Petitioner's arrest, Miss A was pregnant and chose to continue the pregnancy, eventually giving birth to a child.

In deciding the petition, the Court acknowledged that the parties had made a personal choice, contrary to legal provisions governing marital unions. Miss A had consistently supported Petitioner's case throughout the legal proceedings, not aligning with the State's position.

This Court observed that the judicial system, in addition to interpreting and upholding the law, played a crucial role in comprehending the dynamics of society. The Court noted that its responsibility extended beyond the mere application and interpretation of statutes, encompassing an understanding of the consequences of its decisions on individuals and the community at large. Striking a balance necessitated a thorough examination of the facts, legal precedents, and the evolving ethos of the society it served.

The Bench, at times, faced the dilemma of justifying State/Police actions against an adolescent couple who had married and were leading a peaceful life, raising a family while also respecting and obeying the laws of the land. Repeatedly, the Court held that genuine love between individuals, even if one or both were minors or on the cusp of adulthood, could not be subjected to the strict measures of the law or State intervention.

The Bench emphasised that cases like this presented a rare dilemma for the judge, requiring consideration of the delicate balance that constitutional Courts or legal bodies must strike between the strict application of the law and the potential societal repercussions of their judgments and orders on both the community and the individuals involved.

Furthermore, the Court noted that in such cases, often characterized by a limited number of individuals mentioned in the Memo of Parties, the impact of the orders extends beyond the Petitioner. The repercussions of such orders affect a broader spectrum of individuals. For instance, in this case, the future of the families involved, including the two daughters born within wedlock – one aged 8, attending school, and the other 2 ½ years old – as well as the wife, who serves as a homemaker, and the harmonious life they have constructed over the past 9 years, was at stake and contingent upon the outcome of the concluded petition.

Additionally, the Bench noted, “when the scales of justice have to be weighed, they are not always on the basis of mathematical precision or mathematical formulas, but at times, while one side of the scale carries the law, the other side of the scale may carry the entire life, happiness and future of toddlers, their parents and parents of their parents”. The scale reflecting such pure happiness, free from any criminality, was deemed equal to the scale carrying the law, as the application of law aimed to uphold the rule of law.

The Court, after considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case, observed that if the FIR, under these unique circumstances, was not quashed, it would adversely impact the future of the daughters born from this union. This outcome was seen as a failure of effective and genuine justice.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Petition and quashed the impugned FIR.

Cause Title: Arif Khan v The State And Anr (2024:DHC:198)

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