The Punjab and Haryana High Court while allowing a plea filed by a husband who solemnised marriage with the daughter of the complainant against the wish of her parents has held that a ‘Swayamvar’ is not a modern phenomenon and that its roots can be traced in the holy books like Ramayana, Mahabharata.

The Court quashed an FIR filed against the petitioner under Sections 363 and 366-A of the IPC for kidnapping a girl and later solemnizing marriage with her.

A Single Bench of Justice Jagmohan Bansal asserted, “Swayamvar i.e. marriage by your own choice is not a modern phenomena. Its roots can be traced in ancient history including holy books like Ramayana, Mahabharata. Our Constitution in terms of Article 21 is enforcing this human right as fundamental right. … Object of law whether customary, religious or made by legislature, is to protect life and liberty of every human being. Object of law is not to disturb settled life of anyone without his fault.”

The Bench further said that a man can be punished for commission of an offence, however, he cannot be punished just because his act is not liked by anyone else.

Advocate I.S. Dhaliwal appeared on behalf of the petitioner while AAG Amish Sharma, Advocate Gourav Bhayyia Gilhotra, and Advocate Akash Manocha represented the respondents.

Brief Facts

According to the complainant, he along with his family members including his eldest daughter was sleeping in the room. The next morning, he found that his daughter was not in the room. The family members searched their neighbourhood but could not trace her. Later, they came to know that one boy in their neighbourhood took away the daughter by enticing her on the pretext of marriage.

The daughter took away her Aadhar Card and Rs.60,000/- and thereafter, the petitioner solemnized marriage with her in Gurudwara. The couple sought the protection of their lives and liberty before the High Court and the Court disposed of their petition with a direction to SSP to take note of the representation of the petitioners and act in accordance with the law. The couple was blessed with two children as well.

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court noted, “In Indian culture, irrespective of caste and religion, marriage is neither compromise nor a contract but it is a sacrosanct knot of two families. It is not physical meeting of two persons of opposite sex whereas it is most important & pious institution of our society where two families become one. Importance of marriage further finds support from the fact that a child from a couple without marriage is not as recognised as a child from a duly wedded couple.”

The Court further noted that the parties are major and have performed marriage against the wish of their parents but are happily cohabiting and no one including the courts and law enforcing agencies has the right to disturb their life without their fault.

“They have right to live their life in the way and manner they like. They are blessed with two children. With a pending criminal case, nobody can lead a happy life. State has no right to interfere in the life of a duly married couple. Continuance of criminal proceedings is not only going to disturb life of the petitioner but also there are all possibilities of disturbance in life of respondent No. 3 and their children”, said the Court.

The Court also said that in our country, except for stray cases of the urban population, it is the man who is earning and taking care of his wife and children.

“Our State is a welfare State, however, there is no mechanism to provide accommodation, food and other basic daily needs to the dependent of a convicted person”, the Court observed.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the plea and quashed the FIR against the petitioner.

Cause Title- Tek Chand v. State of Punjab and others

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