The Delhi High Court has ruled that a person cannot be charged with kidnapping of a minor girl (i.e. below the marriageable age of 18) if she leaves her parents’ home of her own will and gets married to him. Citing earlier judgments of the Supreme Court and of the High Court, the court said even the marriage is not void.
The court ruled this while quashing an FIR under section 363 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — kidnapping a minor — against one A.K. Gangwar and allowed the girl, lodged in a Nari Niketan during the pendency of the case, to join him.
Justice V K Jain said in such cases, it was important for judges to ascertain if the girl had abandoned the guardianship of her parents on her own and if she was capable of understanding the implications of the step taken by her. “As no offence is made out against the youth and the girl is already married to him, wants to live only with him and has flatly refused to go with her parents, I feel the criminal proceedings against him can be quashed”, said Justice Jain.
The judge noted that there was no coercion from the boy’s side. The girl had left her parents of her own and gone up to Moradabad, where the boy worked.
She then married him of her own free will and also got the marriage registered.
“It is clear she was capable of understanding the implications of the step taken by her,” said the court.
The court referred to several judgments while arriving at the decision, including a case dating back to 1995, where a minor girl was “kidnapped” by a youth named Shyam, on a bicycle. This is how the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the minor girl was a willing party, while acquitting Shyam: “Evidence shows that she was going on the accused’s bicycle. It was not unknown to her with whom she was going and therefore, it was expected of her to jump from the bicycle or put up the struggle and raise an alarm. As no such steps were taken, it proves she was a willing party. There was no taking out of the guardianship.”