Staff Reporter

"There is no law that prohibits a girl of under 18 years from falling in love"

NEW DELHI: Putting its seal of approval on the love marriage of a below 18-year-old Muslim girl with a Hindu boy, the Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that it is not an offence if a girl of that age elopes with her boyfriend and then marries him against the wishes of her parents.

"If a girl of around 17 years runs away from her parents' house to save herself from their onslaught and joins her lover or runs away with him, it is no offence either on the part of the girl or on the part of the boy," Justice S. N. Dhingra of the Court said in his judgment.

The marriageable age for girls is 18 years and for boys it is 21 years.

Mr. Justice Dhingra pronounced the judgment on a petition by the girl seeking directions to the Delhi police not to take any action against her husband, Vivek, on a First Information Report lodged by her father with the Nand Nagri police station in North-East Delhi.

Married

The couple married at an Arya Samaj Mandir in Yamuna Bazar opposite the Old Delhi railway station last April.

"There is no law that prohibits a girl of under 18 years from falling in love. Falling in love is neither an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor under any other penal law," Mr. Justice Dhingra said.

Referring to incidents in which couples in similar situations were lynched in broad daylight in the past, the Court said: "The present-day scenario of this country did not give an assurance to the petitioner (girl) that she was safe in the house of her parents as media reports about the fate of such girls and couples are horrifying."

Alluding to the case in hand, the Court said that it was a case where provisions of law were grossly misused and there was a gross abuse of the process of law by continuing with the FIR when no offence was made out.

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