When Two Adults Decide To Get Married, Is Consent Of The Family Required?

A Case Analysis Of Laxmibai Chandaragiri V. State Of Karnataka

Author: Aditi Prabhu

Student, School of Law Christ University, Bangalore

INTRODUCTION

For a long time, Indian marriages only took place after the parents of the bride and the groom allowed so. This longstanding tradition of “requiring approval of both parents” still takes place even during the 21st century. Don’t we, as free individuals with the capacity to give consent, have the right to choose our life partners?

The divisional bench of the Honourable Supreme Court presided by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy decided that the consent of the family is not required when two adults decide to get married to each other and reaffirmed that the right to choose a life partner is a fundamental right.


FACTS

Laxmibai Chandaragiri’s father, reported his daughter missing on October 14, 2020, in an FIR. After the procedure, the parents' and relatives' statements were recorded, along with their phone calls, for the record. They discovered while looking into the complaint concerns that Petitioner No. 1 had taken flights from Hubli to Bangalore and Bangalore to Delhi, where she had wed Petitioner No. 2. On October 15th, Laxmibai Chandaragiri sent her parents a picture of the marriage certificate over WhatsApp. To determine Petitioner No. 1's location, the Investigating Officer travelled to Petitioner No. 2's home in Ghaziabad. There, he learned that his parents were not aware of the petitioners' whereabouts. The Investigating Officer was subsequently informed by Petitioner No. 1 that she had already wed Petitioner No. 2 and was now living with him. To properly close the FIR, the Investigating Officer insisted that Petitioner No. 1 return to Karnataka and appear before the Murgod Police station to make a statement. Then, in a letter to the investigating officer, Petitioner No. 1 said that she was unable to appear at the police station because she had already married Petitioner No. 2, was living with him, and was being threatened by her uncle. The Investigating Officer did not close the complaint even after this.

Due to "duality of jurisdiction," which results from the fact that the petitioner's Nos. 1 and 2 come from different states, they submitted their petition under Article 32 of the constitution. The petitioners' case was not taken up even though they requested an urgent hearing from the Allahabad High Court and asked for safety for themselves and their families.


JUDGMENT

With the expectation that the parents will be more supportive of the petitioners' marriage, the honourable bench of the court ruled in the petitioners' favour and cancelled the FIR registered at Murgod Police station for a missing person (Laxmibai Chandaragi). The Court said, “Under the garb of caste and community to alienate the child and the son-in-law will hardly be a desirable social exercise”[1]. The Bench also cited B.R. Ambedkar's book Annihilation of Caste, in which Ambedkar claimed that inter-marriage was the key to ending caste since it fosters a sense of kinship and marriage is a significant aspect of our culture. The court further ordered the police authorities to counsel the present investigating officers and to create a training program for the investigating officers to instruct them on how to handle such "socially sensitive" matters for the benefit of the police authorities.


CASES CITED

  1. Shakti Vahini v. Union of India (2018) 7 SCC 192

The constitutional bench of this court cited the above case which passed the judgement that “the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy”.[1]

  1. Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar 7 SCC 192

The constitution bench of the court deemed that freedom of choice of an individual is integral to a person’s dignity. “ Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb to the concept of “class honour” or “group thinking.”.”[2]

  1. Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K M & Ors. (2018) 16 SCC 408

The court cited this case as the society was going through a transformation period at that time and held that the right to marry a person of their choice comes under the definition of Article 21 of the Constitution.

  1. K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India

The constitution bench of this court also referred to judgement with reference to “autonomy of an individual inter alia in relation to family and marriage were held to be integral to the dignity of the individual.”[3]


CONCLUSION

This judgment establishes a standard for ending the long-standing custom of gaining parents' permission before getting married. The Honourable Bench of this Court hopes that their decision would change how Laxmibai Chandaragi's parents view her marriage and will also attempt to change how society as a whole think. The court holds that the right to select one's life partner is basic freedom because it is essential to a person's autonomy and individuality and shouldn't be dependent on their parents' approval. With this ruling, the Court's instruction to the Police authorities to provide Investigating Officers with counselling and to develop a training program to teach them how to manage such delicate instances that are harmful to a family is a great course of action that has been chosen. This decision demonstrates a desire to adapt to how society is evolving.

[1] Shakti Vahini v. Union of India (2018) 7 SCC 192 [2] Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar 7 SCC 192 [3] Laxmibai Chandaragi B. v. State of Karnataka, (2021) 3 SCC 360

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