Kerala High Court denies plea of parents for custody of adult daughter, but restricts her freedom of movement and autonomy

Following the Hadiya case, the Kerala High Court has, in another case of a young adult women eloping with her partner with the intention of marrying him, ruled in favor of the girl’s choice while continuing to exercise severe restrictions over her movement and autonomy.

In this case, the parents of the adult woman registered a case of kidnapping and sexual assault against her partner, and filed a writ petition seeking her custody, on the ground that the accused had a criminal background and their daughter was incapable of choosing a partner. Despite the girl’s statement that she was in a relationship with her partner and intended to marry him, the High Court directed her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. While the court ultimately held that she, as an adult, was entitled to marry a person of her choice, it nevertheless directed that her to remain in a shelter home until the solemnization of her marriage as the Court did not consider it possible to send her along with her partner as an unmarried woman. During her stay at the shelter home, the Court directed that her parents alone would be allowed to interact with her.

Sentencing the young woman to house arrest sets a dangerous precedent for the legal rights of women in the country. The recent order of the Supreme Court to investigate the marriage of Hadiya in the case of Asokan K.M. vs The Superintendent Of Police also treats the woman solely as patriarchal property while denying basic fundamental rights to her.

T.M. Shareef and Anr. v Abdulla K.B. and Ors. WP(Crl.).No. 213 of 2017 (S)