“You are independent to go wherever you want to go,” Supreme Court tells Karnataka woman
A Karnataka politician’s daughter, forced to marry against her wishes, can go anywhere she wants and chase her studies and career, the Supreme Court has said, asking the state police to give her enough security.
“You are a major. You are independent to go wherever you want to go,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra on Monday, adding that nobody, including her family and her husband, can force or coerce her.
The 26-year-old woman, the daughter of a BJP politician and a computer engineer dubbed Ms ‘X’ in the case, had asked the court to set aside her marriage, which, she said, she had never consented to. She also requested protection to be able to study and work in Bengaluru.
Senior lawyer Indira Jaising, who is representing the woman, told the court that all her documents, including educational certificates, Aadhaar card and passport, are with her parents.
After the court’s order, her family assured the judges that they wouldn’t harass her and would give her the documents. Ms Jaising has told the court that the woman will start divorce proceedings.
The woman, forced to marry against her wishes on March 14, had come to Delhi and sought the protection of the Supreme Court, saying her fundamental right to choose her life partner had been “trampled by her family members, who in connivance with each other, have coerced, threatened and tricked her into getting married to the man, against her wishes and free consent”.
The woman had said her family’s conduct suggested a lead-up to ‘honour killing’ – killing over family honour – as she wanted to marry to a person outside her caste.
Last month, the Supreme Court said that it would not interfere in an adult’s decision on whom to marry – this was in the Hadiya case, where a Kerala woman converted to Islam and then married a Muslim. Her father persuaded the Kerala High Court to annul their marriage; Hadiya was ordered to live with her parents. The top court intervened, said her marriage was valid and said she could live with her husband. It however allowed the country’s top counter-terror agency to investigate the marriage, along with some others in Kerala, to determine if terror groups are recruiting young Hindu women through marriage – what is controversially referred to as “love jihad”.