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Confinement by family over love, relationship: Here's how to face it legally

When reasoning doesn't work, some families switch to detaining youth at homes and cutting off their communication with the outer world. This can be avoided without bringing legal wrath on parents.

Published: 15th October 2021 09:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2021 11:02 AM   |  A+A-

love relationship law

For representational purposes

Online Desk

A young couple belonging to Dachepalle in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh was saved from the jaws of death by the timely intervention of their friends in August this year after they consumed poison in the wake of the woman's family opposing their relationship and subsequent marriage.

This is not an isolated incident. Many young couples who fall in love face the ire of their families and an imminent forceful separation. This leads, in many cases, to the couples resorting to extreme steps.

There are instances of parents illegally confining their wards at homes in an attempt to forcefully sever the relationship leading to physical and mental torture.

ALSO READ | Love spells doom for Kerala women, 350 die in 5 years

"When wards refuse to pay heed to a diktat to sever a relationship, parents punish them by illegally confining them to their homes and resort to other measures such as denying them access to mobile phones or emotional blackmail," said an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of police in Kerala.

Advocate Muhammad Ibrahim of the Kerala High Court noted that to fall in love or separate from one's partner are personal choices of individuals. Society should support such persons, he said.

"But, when two people are forced to go separate ways against their wish to live together due to circumstances, it is the failure of us all as a modern society. Hence we need to support them," said Ibrahim.

File a Habeas Corpus

An adult citizen cannot be illegally confined and there is an effective framework in place to ensure their safety and rights. In such cases, the first step is to file a police complaint.  

Then, a Habeas Corpus should be filed in the High Court naming the police and the man/woman responsible for detaining the person. Since the petition involves the privacy and day-to-day life of a person, the court will consider it as serious and urgent.

However, going for a police complaint is not mandatory. "To make a complaint in the local police station is not mandatory as the cops don't have a procedural role in the matter. If there is a complaint registered, it makes it easier for the court to direct the police," explained Ibrahim.

The High Court will serve a notice to all parties and ask for the person to be presented before it. The judge will ask whether he/she was detained against their wish. If the person confirms this, the court will order the release of the person.

Any person can file the Habeas Corpus for the release of the individual and there is no need for the petitioner to be related to the victim.

Not a lengthy legal process

When a Habeas Corpus is filed, the court will send a messenger to the house of the person and the police station who needs to deliver the notice at both places directly. The messenger should be faster than a speed post since there is a threat to the life of a person.

Advocate Ibrahim says the entire process used to wind up within two weeks before the pandemic as it is supposed to be completed as fast as possible.

"Since the pandemic, no special messengers are sent. A notice is sent via speed post and the person is not always presented before the court but some other government office instead where a video conference is arranged," he said recollecting a recent experience.

Don't lie before the court

A lot of people decide against moving court even if they are fully aware of the laws. This is because of a guilty conscience over getting their kin, parents mostly, entangled in legal affairs and possible punishment. Some families even use this reason to emotionally blackmail youngsters against using the protection of law during the aforementioned circumstances, said the lawyer.

But in truth, the family will face no such legal action and the petition will be dismissed.

"The question before the court is whether this person is under illegal detention or not -- which is the only query the judge need to ask necessarily.  The family will tell the youngsters that they may disclose their love to the court but not the detention part. The families will ask them not to tell the court that they were kept against their will as this could make their parents guilty in front of the law," Ibrahim said.

But to do so is suicidal for the petition. "The court is not going to ask if you are in love with a person as that is not the subject before it. How can the court order the release of a person who states that he or she is not under detention? So people need to be truthful," he added.

How can a marriage be legally objected to?

There are certain grounds on which the wedlock between two Indian citizens is objectionable before the law. Other than these, no other reasons are valid before a court of law for any party to object to the union of two adults. They are:

  • Bride/groom are already married 
  • Bride/groom mentally unfit to give consent to a marriage  
  • Bride/groom being minor (The legal age for a woman is 18 years and for a man is 21 years)
  • If the spouses are within the degrees of prohibited relationship


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