Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Supreme Court says Gorakhpur girl’s marriage to Muslim man won’t stand if she is a minor

During the hearing ASG Rupinder Singh Suri submitted that the marriage was solemnised between the Hindu and Muslim.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the marriage of the minor girl from Gorakhpur, who was found in Kolkata two months later will be declared invalid, if she’s found to be a minor. The girl was found married to a Muslim man and was pregnant, the Delhi Police told the Apex Court.

A Bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar directed the Delhi Police to submit the age determination report of the minor girl within one week and also instructed that two Advocates assisting the Amicus Curiae meet her.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rupinder Singh Suri submitted that the marriage was solemnised between a Hindu girl and a Muslim man. To which the bench observed that the marriage will not be valid, if the girl is minor.

ASG Suri also submitted that it would be better for the minor girl if her pregnancy is aborted. To which the bench replied that such a decision will depend upon the age of the girl.

On September 3, the apex court was informed by the Delhi Police that a 13-year-old missing girl, who was allegedly abducted from Gorakhpur, has been traced from Kolkata on September 2. The girl was found to be married to a Muslim man and was pregnant. Police further said that her abductor has been arrested.

The court was apprised by Additional Solicitor General Rupinder Singh Suri, who appeared on behalf of Delhi Police, that the minor girl is in the safe custody of Delhi Police.

The Bench today instructed the Delhi Police to ensure that information related to this case shall not come in the public domain. This instruction came when an Advocate prayed to the Bench that personal information of minor girls should not be released in the media.

The Court directed Delhi Police for follow-up action and to collect the necessary evidence including medical report, if any. Further, Delhi Police was to hand over the minor girl to her mother, the petitioner, upon being brought to Delhi. The bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice C.T. Ravikumar had earlier directed a compliance report to be submitted by Delhi Police before the next date of hearing on September 7.

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Earlier, ASG Puri submitted that pursuant to the lordships’ intervention, the Uttar Pradesh Police had handed over the papers.

SC expresses concern over lackadaisical approach of Uttar Pradesh Police in tracing the missing girl

Justice Khanwilkar remarked that this is “certainly a reflection on the Uttar Pradesh Police” for the duties which they could not do in two months and had further sought time.

Vinod Diwakar, Additional AG for the state of Uttar Pradesh, apologized, to which the Bench said, “You owe responsibility to the Court” and should not have made the submission seeking more time.

Amit Pai, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the court may direct a psychological evaluation of the girl, to which the Court said that Delhi Police will take necessary steps. He further asked for directions in these kinds of cases. Justice Roy remarked, “Police are supposed to rescue victims.”

The ASG also submitted that the main anxiety was that Kolkata is a hub of trafficking. Diwakar asked the Court to pass directions as to who will do further investigation in the matter. The Bench said the compliance report would be submitted first. In the meantime, let the Delhi Police do its job.  

Also Read: Supreme Court dissolves 20-year-old marriage that was never consummated

Earlier on September 1, the Supreme Court directed Gorakhpur Police to forward all investigation records to Malviya Nagar Police Station by the next day and the matter was listed for Friday.

It was directed that the Delhi Police Commissioner shall direct further investigation if necessary for tracing the missing children. The copy of the order was directed to be forwarded to the Commissioner. The Bench further held that this direction shall not absolve the Uttar Pradesh police of continuing with the investigation and that it shall extend cooperation with the Delhi Police.

Girl went missing on July 8

The Habeas Corpus petition has been filed on behalf of the petitioner, the mother of the missing girl. The petitioner, a household worker, has approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution, seeking a writ of Habeas Corpus in respect of her minor daughter aged 13 years, who has been missing since July 8. It is alleged that she has been kidnapped.

Case name: Neelam Kanojia vs the state of Uttar Pradesh

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