The Allahabad High Court observed that true love between individuals, even if one or both are minors or approaching adulthood, cannot be regulated by the strict enforcement of laws or government intervention.

The Court allowed applications seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against four individuals who had married without permission from their families.

The Court noted that its role is much more onerous and beyond mere application and interpretation of the statutes, involving an understanding of the implications of its decisions on individuals and the community at large.

This Court has time and again reached to the conclusion that true love between the individuals, one or both of who may be a minor or at the verge of majority, cannot be controlled through rigours of law or State action”, the Bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi observed.

Advocate Ashok Kumar Yadava and Advocate Aditya Singh appeared for the Applicant and Government Advocate appeared for the Respondent.

Four applications under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) were filed by different applicants, all seeking the quashing of criminal proceedings against them. These applications were collectively decided due to a common legal question. The main application sought to quash a charge sheet, summoning order, and entire criminal proceeding involving allegations under sections 363, 366, and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act). In the first application, despite the prosecutrix marrying the applicant and giving favourable statements, a charge sheet was filed. The Court noted a previously dismissed application under Section 482 by the applicant but considered the argument that significant changes warranted reconsideration. In the second application, the applicants argued for the quashing of a kidnapping case, alleging consensual relationships and marriage, and another case involving allegations of enticing away a minor who was now the applicant's wife and mother of their child, with no evidence of coercion.

In various cases, the Court noted that both the boys and girls involved were in a consensual relationship prior to elopement. Faced with opposition from their families, they chose to marry each other and did so either in a temple or Arya Samaj Temple, also registering their marriage. Despite being major and exercising their right to marry, they faced harassment and criminal charges. However, considering their statements under Section 164 of the CrPC, the entire prosecution case appears baseless. Continuing to pursue criminal charges against the boys would only further harass the couples and should be promptly quashed.

The Bench observed that the common thread among all the aforementioned cases was that in each case, the couples involved were of legal age and got married, yet their parents were creating obstacles in their marital life. Instead of supporting them, the parents caused discord in their relationships. These cases reflect a conflict between legal requirements and the couples' desire to lead a peaceful married life with their children.

The Court referred to the case of Mafat Lal and Another v State of Rajasthan [Crl. Appeal No.592 of 2022] reiterated that when parties are in agreement and leading a happy married life with their young children, there should be no obstacles to recognizing their marriage. Additionally, in the case of Shafin Jahan v Asokan K.M., [(2018) 16 SCC 368], the Court emphasized that individuals over 18 years old have the right to choose where to reside and with whom.

The Court noted that the girls, who had chosen to marry, were either pregnant or had children. The Bench emphasized the importance of approaching the application with compassion and practicality. The couples have been married for a significant period and were parents to one or more children. Subjecting them to criminal prosecution at this stage would be unjust to the accused and their innocent children, who have no involvement in the alleged offence.

The Court is conscious of its role that the judicial system is tasked not only with interpreting and upholding the law but also with understanding of the dynamics of society. The role of the Court is much more onerous and beyond mere application and interpretation of the statutes. It involves an understanding of the implications of its decisions on individuals and the community at large. Striking this balance requires a thorough examination of the facts, legal precedents and involving ethos of the society it serves. The Court must weigh competing interests, considering the impact of its decisions on the parties involved and the broader implications for justice, fairness and social order”, the Bench added.

The Bench observed a dilemma when attempting to justify State or Police action against adolescent couples who marry and lead peaceful lives, balancing respect for the law with compassion for the individuals. The Court emphasized that genuine love between minors or those nearing adulthood cannot be easily regulated by legal measures. Cases like this require the Judge to delicately balance the application of the law with its societal implications, considering the welfare of both the individuals involved and the broader community.

The Bench observed, “when the scale of justice has to be weighed, they are not on the basis of mathematical precision or the mathematical formulas or theorems, but at times, while on one side of the scale there is the law and other side of scale may carry the entire life, happiness and the future of toddlers, their parents and the parents of their parents. The scale that reflects and portrays such pure happiness sans any criminality would definitely equal the scale carrying the law as the application of law is meant for maintaining the rule of law and an orderly society”.

After thorough consideration of the facts and legal aspects, the Court held that allowing the trials to proceed would create undue distress for the couples involved, potentially harming their marital relationship. To uphold the objective of a humane legal system and ensure social order, the Court exercised its discretion under Section 482 of the CrPC and granted the applications.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Applications and quashed the charge sheets, summoning orders, and associated criminal proceedings.

Cause Title: Pradeep Yadav v State Of U.P. (2024:AHC-LKO:13338)


Applicant(s): Advocates Ashok Kumar Yadava, Aditya Singh, Shailendra Pathak and Arjun Singh Kalhans

Respondent(s): Advocates Brijesh Singh Vishen and Yogesh Gupta

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