Delhi HC: Adult Woman Can Reside Wherever, With Whoever She Wishes

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Delhi High Court has ruled that an adult woman in India has the right to reside wherever she wants to live and with whoever she wishes. The Court ruled this in connection with a recent judgement on a woman’s residence rights. This came during the hearing of a petition filed by the family of a 20-year-old woman which claimed that the woman was kidnapped by the man she was living with. However, the woman clarified that she was an adult and was married to the man in question.

The judgement was led by the bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar. According to reports, the family of the woman had filed a habeas corpus petition seeking her immediate production in the court. The petition claimed that the woman was a minor and alleged that she was kidnapped by the man she was currently living with, identified as Babloo. Advocate Sharad Malhotra who presented the family’s case in the High Court said that the woman went missing on September 21. The family “suspects” that Babloo was maliciously involved in it.

Also Read: Supreme Court Declares Deserted Wife And Children Entitled To Alimony From Date of Application: Report

Acceding to the petition’s demand, the court traced the woman and presented her in the court through video-conferencing. Under Section 164 CrPC, 20-year-old clarified that she “went with Babloo of her own and that she has married him”. The court also verified that she was an adult even at the time when she left her home with Babloo.

Subsequently, the bench ordered that the woman should be allowed to live with Babloo, brushing aside the objections by her family.

The court highlighted that the woman was a consenting adult and married the man of her choice and the court cannot interfere in personal relationships.

“As per the status report, she was born in the year 2000, and therefore, even on the date when she went missing, she was a major. She states that she went with Babloo of her own free will and accord and that she has married him,”the bench said in the statement.

It ordered the Police to escort her to Babloo’s home and provide security to the couple. “The police authorities shall also counsel the petitioner and the parents of Sulekha not to take the law into their hands or threaten either Sulekha or Babloo,” the bench said. The court also said that the couple should be provided with the mobile number of a jurisdictional officer in case they need it during an emergency.

This ruling came in the time when states are mulling over forming and enacting laws on Love Jihad. While Uttar Pradesh has become the first state to pass the ordinance on laws for Unlawful Religious Conversion of women for the purpose of marriage. Moreover, just a few days ago, Allahabad Court ruled out a criminal case filed against a man for marrying a woman from a different religion. The court said, “Interference in a personal relationship would constitute serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals”. It further added, “courts… are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.” The Delhi High court is said to have cited similar reasoning while presenting their judgement against the 20-year-old woman.

Also Read: Is Love Jihad Is A Woman Centric Issue That Is Being Politicised?