Marriage between 1st cousins illegal.Live-in with cousin? Bombay high court on the fence
14 sep 2010
Can first cousins marry each other? Such a union, except for some communities, is void under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955. However, while disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by Inderpal Walia, 37, the Bombay high court on Monday said the decision of a girl to live with her cousin would be at her discretion.
In his petition, Walia said he fell in love with his first cousin Harmandeep Kaur, 19, when he met her in Amritsar in March 2008. He had also lived with Harmandeep as “husband and wife” at her parents’ house before they got married in Mumbai on January 21, 2009. Walia says though her parents initially agreed to their marriage, Harmandeep was forcibly taken away from him in September 2009.
Walia had pleaded before the court to allow Harmandeep to live with him since he fears his wife would be married off to an NRI. “Considering the changes in the modern world, the friendship and the union of the petitioner (Walia) with Harmandeep is a necessity and it is no more a kind of foolishness,” Walia’s petition stated.
A division bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and UD Salvi, however, refused to grant permission for their live-in relationship. “The court cannot be expected to put a seal on an arrangement which is not recognised in law,” justice Khanwilkar said. The judges held that the purpose of the habeas corpus petition was served as Harmandeep had been brought before the court and she was “hale and hearty”. The judges said the girl was an adult and she could take decisions on her own.
They also agreed that this was “not an ordinary case”.
Walia’s advocate, Bhavesh Parmar, told the court that Walia was not aware Harmandeep was his first cousin when they got married before a registrar in the Mira-Bhayander court. He got to know from legal experts that their marriage was null and void under Section 5 of the HMA after Harmandeep was taken away by her family. “I have advised my client to challenge the order in the Supreme Court,” Parmar said.
14 Sep 2010
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday rejected one Harmant Singh's plea that his "wife" Hardeep, who is also his first cousin, be allowed to live with him. The Hindu Marriage Act disallows marriage between first cousins.
"If the request was to be considered, it would be putting a seal of approval on a relationship which isn't permitted in law," said a division bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice U D Salvi. The judges allowed Hardeep to go with her parents. "She is an adult and free to take her own decisions," said the judges, adding that Hardeep could decide her plans in consultation with her parents.
Harmant's lawyer made repeated pleas the court ask Hardeep with whom she wished to go. The judges, however, pointed out that "the law doesn't permit you and her to stay together."
Additional public prosecutor Ajay Gadkari told the court that in a habeas corpus proceeding the scope was limited to producing the person concerned before the court and that they had brought Hardeep from Amritsar.
Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act bans, among other things, marriage between a brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or children of brother and sister or of two brothers or of two sisters. The marriage is void, unless the custom of the community permits it.
Harmant, who claimed to be a marine officer, said he had met Hardeep in Amritsar. They married at an Arya Samaj temple in Mumbai in January 2009. Nine months later, her family called her home on the pretext that her father was sick. Subsequently, he wasn't allowed to meet her. Harmant, admitted that she was his first cousin, and under the law the marriage was void.
(Names of the couple have been changed to protect their identities)