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Bombay HC refuses to detain woman who eloped with lover, warns father of action if he harms couple

The woman told the court that she had left her father’s house and had been “happily living” with the man at a residence unknown to both the parents.

The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench refused to detain or pass orders against an 18-year-old woman, who had eloped with a man two years older than her, after she appeared before the court in a habeas corpus petition filed by her father.

The court after verifying her age and noting that she was unwilling to speak or meet with her father, asked the petitioner not to try to make her change the decision by causing physical harm and also directed the man’s father to exercise restraint from causing any harm to the woman’s parents.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Bhalchandra U Debadwar on March 31 was hearing the habeas corpus plea filed by the woman’s father who had claimed that his daughter eloped with the man in December 2020 and thereafter, he had filed a missing complaint. He moved the court in February 2021 through advocates M S Karad and S S Thombre.

On Wednesday, the woman appeared before the court voluntarily. The court verified her identity and age and noted that she was 18 years and six months old, an adult individual. The woman told the court that she is in love with the man who is 20 years and 11 months old and they have planned to get married after he attains the marriageable age of 21 years.

The woman told the court that she had left her father’s house and had been “happily living” with the man at a residence unknown to both the parents. She added that her father had assaulted the man’s father and blamed him as his son had eloped with her.

The woman sought protection, apprehending harm from the petitioner to her, the man and his parents. The woman refused a request by the petitioner’s lawyer to speak or meet with her father.

The court said, “We deem it appropriate to note that if the missing woman or the respondent man suffers any physical harm and if they allege that the petitioner has caused the same, the petitioner would be then liable for action, in accordance with law.”

It added, “Since the missing girl is an adult and the respondent man is also an adult, though not of a marriageable age, we have no reason to detain the missing girl, considering the specific replies given by her…”

The court then directed the assistant sub-inspector of police present there to accompany the woman and the man to ensure that they safely board a bus to travel to place of their choice without being stopped and disposed of the petition.

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