The Bombay High Court recently refused to grant custody of a minor girl to her alleged husband on the ground that she was a minor and not an adult. The HC said that the girl should continue to live with her parents.
A bench of Justices Prasanna Varale and Anil Kilor was hearing a plea filed by one Chandrakant Vinjun, a ward boy of the city's Cooper hospital.
In his plea, Vinjun pointed out that the girl, Sanjana (changed name) was working with him in the hospital and their friendship developed into a love affair. The couple accordingly got married in May 2021 as per Hindu vedic rites and customs.
Soon after the marriage, the couple received threat calls from Sanjana's parents and they accordingly lodged a non-cognizable (NC) complaint with the Juhu Police station.
Subsequently, the girl's parents lodged an FIR against Vinjun under charges of kidnapping with the Tulinj police station. The police summoned the couple and upon investigation found that the girl is a minor and sent her to the child welfare committee (CWC).
Vinjun, in his defence, cited a school-leaving certificate which showed his birth year as 2002, indicating her to be an adult and not a minor.
However, her father submitted a birth certificate which showed she is born in the year 2004 and thus was a minor at the time of marriage.
The bench noting the contentions, said, "In the present matter, one document was relied on by the girl child and a contra document was submitted to the CWC by the father of the girl in the form of a birth certificate issued by the Grampanchayat."
"In view of these peculiar facts, the CWC thought it ft to call for the report of ossification test through the Investigating Officer so as to determine the age of girl child, which records a finding that the girl is about 17 years of age," the judges noted.
"Considering all these facts, it can now safely be stated that a girl is a minor person. On arriving at this opinion, we are unable to persuade ourselves to accept that she is a major and Vinjun had solemnized marriage with her," the bench said, adding,
"There cannot be any dispute that a major person is at his will and liberty to marry with a person of his choice, but in the present matter, the girl is proved minor as per the CWC. Thus the petition fails."