The Bombay High Court has refused to grant relief to a woman seeking annulment of marriage with a man who had allegedly exploited her ever since she was 14 years old.

The Court while dismissing the plea observed, "Corollary of the aforesaid discussion is that Hindu Marriage Petition is hopelessly barred by limitation as rightly held by Family Court, Bandra."

The Division Bench of Justice K.R. Shriram and Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan held that the evidence on record was not sufficient enough to infer that the alleged marriage of a woman to a man was an outcome of practicing fraud or force.

"Overall evidence of appellant is improbable, unbelievable and unacceptable. No sane man would believe and accept her testimony as it is nothing but ipsedixitism," the Court noted.

In this case the woman had alleged that when she was aged 14 to 15 years, the respondent had forcibly made physical contact with her and took obscene photographs. It was further alleged that the Respondent had threatened her with dire consequences and also to her family members if she disclosed the act of the respondent and photographs.

The woman alleged that he gave her some "prasad" to eat, which she, later on, realized was spiked with some drugs, as after consuming said "prasad", she became powerless and mute spectator to the events that unfolded thereafter.

It was alleged that the respondent and his friends also made her sign some blank papers.

The appellant lodged a complaint in July 2014 and a case was registered against the respondent under Sections 376, 366, 354, 506 (2) of the Indian Penal Code and under section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The appellant contended that she was never married nor there was any marriage conducted between her and the respondent. She alleged that the respondent had fabricated a certificate that he claimed to be marriage certificate.

In 2017 the woman had approached the family court seeking to annul the marriage but her plea was rejected.

Advocate Firdause Irani appearing for the appellant argued that the appellant was under huge criminal force and was suffering for more than 18 long years of her ordeal wherein the respondent had wielded money, muscle, and political power against her.

He further submitted that the appellant was sexually exploited by respondent ever since she was 14 years old and continued exploiting her physically, mentally and economically by sheer use of criminal force and threats.

He argued that the lower court had erred in technically deducing the calculation of limitation to file annulment proceedings.

The Court observed thus "If it is presumed that appellant was molested or sexually exploited when she was in 10th standard and was 14 to 15 years of age, by 2007 she must have attained 18 years, however, neither she had disclosed alleged acts of respondent to her parents, siblings nor to any of the family members."

The Court further observed that the woman was once slapped by the respondent in front of her colleagues even then the appellant had neither complained either to her parents or to the Police which sounds incredible.

On the allegation, that she was given some "prasad" to eat by the respondent which, she later realized that was spiked with some drugs after which her signatures were obtained on some blank papers, the Court noted "We are afraid, we cannot believe such evidence of appellant as it is difficult to accept the same to be a truthful version of the incident. It is so because as to how she readily accepted "prasad" and ate it despite having been forcibly taken away by respondent?"

"It is unfathomable as to why she did not disclose the said incident to her friends or colleagues who could have definitely taken some effective steps by approaching the Police or at least to the superior officers", the Court noted further.

The Court held that such behavior of the appellant was strange and it cannot be said to be a natural conduct of a woman who was major and qualified as a Master in Science and serving independently in a city like Mumbai.

"It is crystal clear from the evidence of appellant that except her bare words, there is absolutely no corroboration from any corner either in the form of evidence of her parents, brothers, sisters or employees of Union Bank of India", the Court observed.

The Court said that it failed to understand why she did not do anything and remained silent till 2017, i.e, almost for a period of six years.

The Court held that no interference was warranted in the impugned judgment and order. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

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