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‘Total Lack of Sensitivity:’ SC on K’taka HC Adjourning Habeas Plea on Woman’s House Arrest for 14 Times

Reported By: Sanya Talwar

Last Updated: January 18, 2024, 19:30 IST

The Supreme Court held her continued detention as illegal and ordered her forthwith release. It also said she is permitted to proceed as per her own wishes. (File Photo)

The Supreme Court held her continued detention as illegal and ordered her forthwith release. It also said she is permitted to proceed as per her own wishes. (File Photo)

A Supreme Court bench ordered for release of the woman detained at her uncle’s house by her parents, saying, ‘When the question of liberty of a person is involved even a day’s delay counts’

The Supreme Court on January 17 expressed its displeasure at the manner in which the Karnataka High Court dealt with a habeas corpus petition on illegal detention of a 25-year-old woman by adjourning it on 14 occasions and postponing it indefinitely and fixing it in 2025, saying it depicted “a total lack of sensitivity” and “lackadaisical approach”.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta ordered for release of the woman detained at her uncle’s house by her parents, saying, “When the question of liberty of a person is involved even a day’s delay counts”.

The court allowed her to go with parents of her relationship partner to Dubai to pursue her career in accordance with her wishes.

“When in a habeas corpus petition the detenue had in unequivocal terms expressed before the High Court that she desired to go back to Dubai to pursue her career, the High Court ought to have passed the order setting her at liberty with immediate effect. Adjourning the matter on 14 occasions and now postponing it indefinitely and posting it in 2025 depicts a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the High Court in such a matter,” the bench said.

The court noted as a matter of fact not passing appropriate orders at appropriate stage has contributed to further illegal detention of the detenue.

“Because of such lackadaisical approach, the petitioner and his parents have been compelled to make frequent trips from Dubai to Bengaluru just to ensure the well-being of the detenue. When the question of liberty of a person is involved even a day’s delay counts,” the bench said.

Petitioner-Kevin Joy Varghese contended that he and the woman were studying together at Dubai, they knew each other for the last nine years and were in a relationship since 2022. He claimed after her parents came to know about the relationship of the petitioner, they forcibly took her from Dubai and illegally detained her in Bengaluru at her uncle’s house.

The court interacted with the woman, her parents and petitioner’s parents.

The bench noted she emphatically stated that though she has all the love, respect and affection for her parents, she would like to go back to Dubai and pursue her career. She further stated that though on three occasions she had got interview calls from Dubai for different jobs, she could not attend the same, as she was under detention of her parents.

She further submitted that since all important documents including the passport are in the custody of her parents, her position is almost like house arrest.

She categorically expressed that she would like to go along with the parents of the petitioner. Her parents said they wanted her daughter to be financially stable before she takes any decision about her life.

“The woman is a grown up woman aged about 25 years. We have personally interacted with her in chambers on three occasions. In the intervals, we had interactions with her parents as well as the parents of the petitioner. She is highly qualified. Interaction with her showed that she is mature enough to understand as to what is right and what is wrong for her in her life. In any case a major girl cannot be compelled to do something against her wishes,” the bench said.

The court held her continued detention as illegal and ordered her forthwith release. It also said she is permitted to proceed as per her own wishes.

The bench also directed her parents to return the passport, documents, belongings of the woman within a period of 48 hours.

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