Women, Who have attained the Age of Majority, are Entitled to Make Their Own Choices

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, observed in a Habeas Corpus Petition that Women, who have attained the age of majority, are entitled to make their own choices and they can live wherever they want. The Court also ruled that cannot assume the role of a super guardian to impose any restrictions on them.

Facts of the Case

  • The Habeas Corpus Petition was filed by a Father of two minor(as stated by the petitioner)  daughters, for directing respondents No.1 to 3 to search for detenues Suraiya and Monisha at the premises of respondents No.4 to 9 and get them released from their illegal custody.
  • The petition was filed on the averments that both the detenues Suraiya and Monisha are unmarried daughters of petitioner-Usman Khan.
  • It is alleged that the detenues, who had taken amount and jewellery mentioned in the petition with them, were kidnapped by respondents No.4 to 9 on the night of 26.06.2020 from his house and illegally detained by them.
  • The petitioner made representation dated 13.07.2020 to the Superintendent of Police, Mewat but no action has been taken on the same.
  • Vide order dated 11.08.2020, the Coordinate Bench of the Court directed the Registry to appoint the Warrant Officer. Consequently, the Warrant Officer submitted a report dated 21.08.2020 that both the detenues were not found either detained or otherwise at the places pointed out by the petitioner.
  • Subsequently, the detenues appeared before the Court on 25.09.2020 with their Counsel and claimed themselves to be major and denied allegations as to their abduction by anyone.
  • Vide order dated 25.09.2020 the deteunes were ordered to be kept in Nari Niketan, Sector-26, Chandigarh till further orders and in view of conflicting statements regarding the age of the detenues, their abduction and illegal detention, learned Judicial/Duty Magistrate, Chandigarh was directed to record statements of the detenues under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as to their age, whether they were abducted or illegally detained by anyone or left their home on their own as well as circumstances for the same and statement of petitioner-Usman Khan with regard to the age of the alleged detenues on the documentary proof

Statement of Detenues

  • Both the detenues have unequivocally stated that they had left their home in village Pingwan, District Mewat (Hy.) because on 23.06.2020, both of them were raped by the sons of their maternal uncles namely Subin s/o Surfudeen and Ikram s/o Islam and they narrated the said incident to their father Usman Khan, but instead of listening to them, he reprimanded them.
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  • Thereafter, both of them were held captives by their family members namely Guldeen, Subin, Mubin, Anis, Rahis, Inus, Usman, Inam, Imran, Rani w//o Guldeen and Rehana w/o Mukin and were beaten up by them. Thereafter, their father tried to sell them off for money and tried to forcibly marry them off.
  • Due to said circumstances, they somehow escaped from the clutches of the above-said persons on 27.06.2020 and reached Mohali. They do not want to return to their home due to their exploitation and abuse.
  •  It is further pertinent to mention here that as per their version, they were not abducted and illegally detained and they had left their home at their own due to exploitation and abuse, inflicted upon them.
  • Both of them also mentioned that they (women) have attained the age of majority and had produced relevant documents in support of their statement.

Observation made by the Court

  • Anyone of the detenues cannot be said to be minor. In view of statements of the detenues, who are major, the detenues cannot be said to have been abducted or illegally detained by anyone including respondents No.4 to 9 and they left their home on their own, and they want to live separately at Mohali and sustain themselves by carrying out the tailoring work.
  • The Court emphasis that the detenues being major are entitled to make their choice and to live wherever they want and the Court cannot assume the role of a super guardian and impose any restriction. Accordingly, the detenues are ordered to be released from Nari Niketan, Sector-26, Chandigarh and the detenues shall be at liberty to go to any place whatsoever as desired by them.
  • Since the detenues have not been abducted and illegally detained by anyone and do not want to go with their father-the petitioner, no action is required to be taken on the present habeas corpus petition and petition being devoid of any merit is dismissed.

Case Name: Usman Khan v. State of Haryana and others

Case no.: CRWP-5891-2020

Coram: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ARUN KUMAR TYAGI

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