Madras HC calls for mechanism to verify if women who marry imprisoned convicts do so of their own free will
Litigation News

Madras HC calls for mechanism to verify if women who marry imprisoned convicts do so of their own free will

The mental agony which women have to undergo by marrying convicts is unimaginable as they have to lead their life alone. Therefore, a mechanism has to be devised to find out if she consented on her own, the Court said

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court recently voiced concern over instances of women getting married to convicts undergoing a prison sentence, noting that in such cases a mechanism should be in place to discern if the woman is entering into the marriage of her own free will (Shamma v. The State and ors).

The Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and VM Velumani observed,

"The mental agony and hardship which women would have to undergo by marrying the convicts is unimaginable as they have to lead their life alone. Therefore, a mechanism has to be devised to see that before getting married, the Women Commission examines the girl who is supposed to marry the convict and find out whether her consent has been obtained by force or coercion due to various religious and communal reasons or she consented on her own."

The Court opined that it is unlikely that a woman would come forward to a marry a person who is undergoing imprisonment, more particularly if it is life imprisonment, also given that "nowadays, girls are putting so many conditions even to marry a person who is leading a normal life in the society."

As such, the Bench said that this issue has to be gone into in detail. The Court opined that a married woman would ordinarily need the moral support and physical companionship of her husband. In this regard, the order states,

"Whenever a girl marries a convict, her life gets crippled and she is also psychologically and physiologically affected apart from the stigma which she has to bear. A normal married lady always need moral support and physical companionship of her husband throughout her life."
Madras High Court

The case before the Court was a habeas corpus plea, wherein a woman was seeking parole for her husband who had been been in jail for over 20 years. He has been convicted for a crime in 2003 by a Madurai Court.

The Bench took note that the woman had gotten married to the convict on a day when the convict was released on parole, 10 years earlier. It was further observed that the convict returned to jail the same day after their marriage. Since then, the woman had been living with her mother-in-law, while her husband continued serving his life sentence.

In such circumstances, the Court observed that it is not verified whether the woman's consent had been obtained before she was married to the convict. The Court further noted that there were many cases where a life-convicts get married and thereafter return to prison.

Given the larger questions raised in the matter, the Court proceeded to implead the National and State Commissions for Women, as well as the Union Minstry for Child and Women in this case.

The case is listed to be taken up next on August 27.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com