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Can a policeman legally stop you from holding hands in a park?

Get answers on tricky situations pertaining to relationships and socio-legal issues in Delhi/NCR

My boyfriend and I were holding hands in the park, when a policeman threatened to call our parents. We are both 16. Do the police have the right to do so?

In India, holding hands in a park is not an offence even for adolescent persons. The police has no right to disturb you or threaten to call your parents. However, if there is sexual intimacy in the park, i.e., kissing or any form of sexual activity, it may amount to the offence of obscenity and the police could consider legal action. Further, the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO’) prohibits all sexual acts between persons below 18, and between persons below 18 and adult persons. If the police suspects that any sexual activity, they may even invoke the offences under POCSO. Where the police takes action, they may call the parents of someone who is below 18.

I am 22 and wish to get married to my girlfriend, who is 18. However, both of us are dependent on our parents. Can they stop the marriage?

The law on marriage is governed by the religion of the parties. In case the parties are from different religions, then they can marry under the secular law, i.e., the Special Marriage Act, 1954. In all these laws, the minimum age of marriage is specified and mostly common, i.e., the groom should be 21 years and the bride should be minimum of 18 years of age. If you fulfil the age criteria and both parties have decided to marry each other with full consent, amongst other criteria, then no one can legally stop the marriage, especially the parents. The Courts have repeatedly held that the right to choice in marriage and sexual relations is an integral aspect of the fundamental right to privacy, dignity and autonomy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, since you are dependent on your parents, know that they may not support you in future.

Amritananda Chakravorty is a Delhi-based advocate, specialising in litigation on gender and sexuality. She was actively involved in the landmark cases of decriminalisation of sodomy (Section 377) and the recognition of transgender rights in India. Ask questions at delhimetro@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 11:49:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/answers-on-tricky-situations-socio-legal-issues-for-delhincr/article28341271.ece

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