Does Right to Life includes Right to Marry?
Lata Singh v/s The State Of Uttar Pradesh & Another - (2006(5)SCC 475)
Criminal -Constitution of India - Article 21, 25, 19(1)(a), 32, 38, 51A(e) -
Scope of - Right to marry of oneï¿½s choice Inter Caster marriage - Issuance of
Writ of Certiorari/Mandamus to quash Vexatious/malicious criminal proceeding -
Matter involving freedom of conscience and expression in terms of marry of oneï¿½s
choice outside oneï¿½s case.
Lata Singh - the Petitioner, a major was residing with her brother Ajay Pratap
Singh after the demise of her parents. The petitioner left her brotherï¿½s house
on November 2, 2000 at her own will to marry Mr. Brahma Nand Gupta, who had
business at Delhi and few other places. The Petitioner married Mr. Brahma Nand
Gupta at Arya Samaj Mandir.
Ajay Pratap Singh - petitionerï¿½s brother lodged a missing personï¿½s report on
November 4, 2000 at Sarojini Nagar police station, Lucknow. Consequently, the
police arrested two sisters of the petitionerï¿½s husband, husband of one of the
sister and a cousin of the petitionerï¿½s husband. The persons arrested by
concerned Police Station were Mamta Gupta, Sangita Gupta, Rakesh Gupta (Husband
of Mamta Gupta) and Kallu Gupta respectively.
As alleged by the Petitioner, petitionerï¿½s brothers Ajay Pratap Singh, Anand
Pratap Singh and Shashi Pratap Singh being intensively directed towards casteism
were against their marriage as Brahma Nand Gupta belonged to another caste. They
strenuously entered the petitionerï¿½s husbandï¿½s paternal residence and ensued in
a scuffle with his relatives. That they allegedly forcibly took possession of
the field and shop owned by the petitionerï¿½s husband and lodged a false police
report stating that the petitioner was kidnapped by her husband and her
relatives and that the petitioner is mentally unstable.
The Petitioner alleged that the petitionerï¿½s brothers threatened to kill her,
her husband and her relatives. Considering the dire consequences, Gupta family
abstained from moving to Lucknow. Amidst the various allegations, tactics and
circumstances three of the Gupta family members had to live in jail for a long
period of time and were also not granted bail.
The petitioner alleged that she ran from pillar to post to save her family, she
then approached The Rajasthan Woman Commission, Jaipur as she was staying in
Jaipur apprehending danger to her and her husbandï¿½s life. After the intervention
of the commission the accused were granted bail, as the possibility of them
being involved in any vicious act was ruled out.
The statement of the petitioner was recorded before the Chief Judicial
Magistrate wherein she stated that she married Brahma Nand Gupta at her own free
will and left home vigilantly. Despite this statement, the learned Chief
Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow passed the committal order on 5.10.2001 ignoring
the fact that the Police had already filed a final report in the matter.
The Fast Track Court, Lucknow before whom the case was pending issued non-bailable
warrants against all the four accused; and against the order of the Fast Track
Court, the accused filed a petition under section 482Cr.P.C. in the Allahabad
High Court (Lucknow Bench) which was registered as Crl. Misc. No. 520/2003. The
High Court directed the accused to appear before the Sessions Judge who would
himself scrutinize whether the accused committed any offence or not. The matter
is still pending.
After the order of the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench), writ petition under
Article 32 of the Constitution of India was filed with a prayer for issuing a
writ of certiorari and /or mandamus for quashing the Sessions Trial No. 1201 of
2001 under sections 366 and 368 of the Indian Penal Code arising out of FIR No.
336 of 2000 registered at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow and pending in
the Fast Track Court V, Lucknow. The Honï¿½ble Supreme Court allowed the Petition.
The operative part of the judgement reads as under:
The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the
better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united
to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages
are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste
However, disturbing news are coming from several parts of the country that young
men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or
violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts of violence or
threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be
This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or
she can marry whosoever he/she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not
approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do
is that they can cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they
cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass
the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter- religious marriage.
We, therefore, direct that the administration/police authorities throughout the
country will see to it that if any boy or girl who is a major undergoes
inter-caste or inter-religious marriage with a woman or man who is a major, the
couple are not harassed by any one nor subjected to threats or acts of violence,
and any one who gives such threats or harasses or commits acts of violence
either himself or at his instigation, is taken to task by instituting criminal
proceedings by the police against such persons and further stern action is taken
against such persons as provided by law.
We sometimes hear of `honourï¿½ killings of such persons who undergo
inter-caste or inter-religious marriage of their own free will. There is nothing
honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and
shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve
harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.
In the circumstances, the writ petition is allowed. The proceedings in
SessionsTrial No. 1201/2001 titled State of U.P. vs. Sangita Gupta & Ors.
arising out of FIR No. 336/2000 registered at Police Station Sarojini Nagar,
Lucknow and pending in the Fast Track Court V, Lucknow are quashed.
The warrants against the accused are also quashed. The police at all the
concerned places should ensure that neither the petitioner nor her husband nor
any relatives of the petitionerï¿½s husband are harassed or threatened nor any
acts of violence are committed against them. If anybody is found doing so, he
should be proceeded against sternly in accordance with law, by the authorities
We further direct that in view of the allegations in the petition (set out
above) criminal proceedings shall be instituted forthwith by the concerned
authorities against the petitionerï¿½s brothers and others involved in accordance
with law. Petition allowed.ï¿½
Lata Singh v/sThe State Of Uttar Pradesh (2006(5) SCC 475)decided on
07/07/2006 by Honï¿½ble Supreme court in Writ Petition No. 208 of 2004, is a
landmark judgement which protects folks who marry inter caste or inter religion
and against the wishes of their parents, which could lead to honour killings or
other form of harassment and violence. Hence it can be held that right to life
includes right to marry of oneï¿½s own choice.
Written By: Adv. Raghavendra Mehrotra, Founder & Managing partner of
Law Article in India
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