Inter-caste marriages will possibly reduce caste and community tensions, the Supreme Court has said while noting that the educated younger boys and girls are now a days choosing their life partners which is a departure from earlier societal norms.
The top court said that youngsters face threats from the elders and the courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters.
It said the way forward to the police authorities is to counsel the Investigating Officers (IO) and lay down some guidelines and training programmes on how to handle such socially sensitive cases.
The remarks came by a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy which quashed an FIR lodged by the parents of the girl, who had married a boy of her choice against the wishes of elders, at Belgavai district of Karnataka.
The top court in its recent verdict said that it hopes that the parents of the girl will have a better sense to accept the marriage and re-establish social interaction not only with her but even with her husband.
"That, in our view, is the only way forward. Under the garb of caste and community to alienate the child and the son-in-law will hardly be a desirable social exercise," the bench told the parents of the girl, who has sought quashing of the FIR lodged against her.
The top court said, "Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners which, in turn is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role. Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such inter marriage but in the meantime these youngsters face threats from the elders and the Courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters."
Referring to earlier verdicts of the top courts, the bench said it has been held that the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.
The bench said it has been held in the 2017 verdict of the top court that the choice of an individual is an "inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice".
"Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable and even matters of faith would have the least effect on them. The right to marry a person of choice was held to be integral to Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the bench noted, while referring to Hadiya case verdict of 2018.
Justice Kaul, who penned down the verdict on behalf of the bench, said that the intervention of this Court would really not have been required in the given facts of the case, if the investigating officer had conducted himself more responsibly in closing the complaint.
"...if the investigating officer really wanted to record the statement of the petitioner No.1 (girl), should have informed that he would visit her and recorded the statement instead of putting her under threat of action against petitioner No.2 (boy) to come to the police station," the bench said.
The bench said that it does not reflect very well on the police authorities or the IO of the case as the marriage certificate having been received by him and the conversation already been held with the girl, where she clearly stated that she was married to the boy, and that she was feeling threatened and apprehensive of coming to the police station.
"If the IO could have visited the residence of petitioner No.2 (boy), he could very well have recorded the statement of petitioner No.1(girl) at the place where the petitioners were residing rather than insisting and calling upon the petitioners to come to the local police station at Karnataka", it said.
The bench said that the IO undoubtedly sought to compel the girl to come and record the statement at police station on the threat of possibility of a false case being registered by her parents against the boy and the consequent action of the police which would result in his arrest.
"We strongly deprecate the conduct of the IO in adopting these tactics and the officer must be sent for counselling as to how to manage such cases," the bench said.
It said that the way forward to the police authorities is to not only counsel the current IOs but devise a training programme to deal with such cases for the benefit of the police personnel.
"We expect the police authorities to take action on this behalf in the next eight weeks to lay down some guidelines and training programmes on how to handle such socially sensitive cases," the bench said.
The bench noted that both the petitioners are well educated and the boy is an M.Tech from NIT, Tiruchirapalli and got a placement as an Assistant Professor in Jain College of Engineering, Belagavi, while his wife is an MA B.Ed and was a Lecturer in a College.
It noted that there was resistance from the parents of the girl, though the parents of the boy were willing for the matrimony of both the well qualified petitioners who are majors and Hindu by religion.