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Forced marriage: Supreme Court lets minister’s daughter cut ties with parents and husband | India News

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NEW DELHI: Giving primacy to free will, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed an influential Karnataka politician’s daughter to break free from matrimonial and parental ties and live her life the way she chose to. The 26-year-old woman had fled home complaining that she was forced into marriage against her wish.

In a dramatic act, the politician’s daughter, referred in SC records as ‘X’, had left her parents’ home in Gulbarga for Delhi 20 days after being tortured into marrying a man instead of her lover. Within hours of moving the SC while under care of the Delhi Commission for Women, she was given Delhi Police protection.

When the woman, through her counsel Indira Jaising, said she wanted to return to Bengaluru and pursue her masters in engineering, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, “You are an adult. You can go wherever you want and pursue whatever you wish to.”

But Jaising said the woman feared reprisals from her parents and husband. “Her brother, supported by her mother, had threatened to rape her,” the counsel said and sought protection against any tyrannical action from the parents or in-laws. The bench ordered, “She can go to any place she desires to. Parents or any family member of X, the husband or his family members, cannot create any obstacle in the path of the woman.”

Appearing for the parents, senior advocate Basava Patil told the court that there would be no coercive action against the woman from the parents or other family members and that all her belongings, including educational certificates and documents, would be handed over to her. “She need not apprehend anything. There will be no interference with her life from the parents. All things she desires will be given back to her,” Patil assured. The SC asked the parents to hand over documents to her through advocate-on-record Sunil Fernandes.

However, the bench dismissed Jaising’s argument that since the woman had not consented to the marriage, the SC must declare it a ‘void marriage.’ The bench said the woman, if she wanted to annul her marriage, must move the family court It said the apex court could not declare a marriage void without the woman initiating proceeding.

On Jaising’s plea that the woman feared for her safety in Bengaluru because of the influence wielded by her father, the bench said if she had any apprehension, she would be free to approach the area assistant commissioner of police, who would take appropriate measures to give her protection.

The woman alleged she was physically and mentally tortured by her parents and her brother into the marriage on March 14. The marriage took place despite her complaints to the police and clearly conveying to the groom she did not want to marry him and had a lover.

Updated: May 7, 2018 — 11:35 pm

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