Case Summary : Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006

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Title of the Case Brief: Lata Singh vs State Of U.P. & Another

Citation : (2006) 5 SCC 475

Bench : Ashok Bhan and Markandey Katju JJ.

Petitioner: Lata Singh

Respondent : State of UP & others

Introduction :

This is a case summary of landmark case which discuss about ‘right to marry’ and ‘inter-caste marriage’ in Indian society. In this case court very specifically called right to marry as a fundamental right. Supreme court also held that inter-caste marriages is a good way to remove the impact of caste system from the society.

The petitioner has filed a petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution for passing the writ of mandamus/ certiorari. In order quash the order passed by Trial court under Section 366 (Kidnapping) and 368 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Brief Facts :

The petitioner Lata Singh,  a young woman of age 27 years i.e. major. She has completed her graduation and was pursuing her masters in Hindi at Lucknow University. Due to sudden demise of her parents she used to live with her brother Ajay Pratap Singh at Lucknow only.  Lata left her brother’s home on 02/11/2000; voluntarily married to one Brahma Nand Gupta at Arya Samaj Mandir. They even had a child out f this wedlock. After two days of marriage her brother lodged a missing person report in nearby police station. Due to which police arrested two sisters of petitioner’s husband named as Mamta Gupta and Sangita Gupta along with one of the husband’s of the sisters i.e. Rakesh Gupta (husband of Mamta Gupta).

The petitioner alleged that her brothers were furious about the marriage because it was an inter-caste marriage. In order to take revenge of that they went to husband’s paternal home and beated the family members. They even locked few members for a couples of days without any meal or water. The brother’s of petitioner  also lodged a false complaint about kidnapping his younger sister who is not mentally fit to get married by herself. They harassed the family in every possible way. Even threatened the husband’s family to kill them and her husband; they even said that they will kill their own sister for committing this sin of inter-caste marriage.

The petitioner on the other hand was running from post to pillar to save her husband and his relatives. Petitioner’s brothers of a criminal bent. National Human Rights Commission and State Women Commission intervened in the case to help her. They helped her to present the matter before Supreme Court of India. The relatives of her husband got out of jail due to her efforts.

Observation : 

The judicial magistrate recorded the statements of petitioner. She was a major at the time of marriage and has the right to marry any one she wants. She married to her husband by her own will.  The court even stated that her being a major is not a debatable issues. The petitioner is mentally fir to marry. There is no restriction under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 regarding inter-caste marriage. A major person is allowed to marry any body he/she wants of their own choice. The court in this case reprimanded the police; that instead of taking action against petitioner’s brothers they made a false case against petitioner’s in-laws.

Issue :

Whether the writ petition filed under Article 32 to quash the order of session trial courts is maintainable or not?

Judgement : 

The honorable Supreme Court gave the judgement in favor of the petitioner and held that the petition is maintainable. The court set aside the decision of High Court for nullifying the marriage. Court also held that right to marry is a right of choice which is embodied under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which means right to marry with a person of own choice is a fundamental right. Honorable court condemned practices of honor killing as such practices are penal-able. Court even called the caste system as a curse for the whole society. Finally, court allowed the writ. It ordered the respective department to provide protection to the petitioner, her husband and her in-laws.

Conclusion 

The whole case is filed to misuse the administrative powers of the court for an immoral purpose. Two main paragraphs of this judgement i.e. 16th and 17th reflects the evolutionary behavior of the court towards such cases where J. Katju presented his views on honor killing and caste system; which are as follows

16th para 

  • “Since several such instances are coming to our knowledge of harassment, threats and violence against young men and women who marry outside their caste, we feel it necessary to make some general comments on the matter. The nation is passing through a crucial transitional period in our history, and this Court cannot remain silent in matters of great public concern, such as the present one.”

17th para 

  • “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 system. 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 severely punished.”
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