Lovely School of Law, LPU
Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.1
Love is a supernatural feeling about someone whom one considers to be his/her soul mate. Love is a sacred emotion which exists between two fellows. Their taste may be same or different but the common thing amongst them is they want to live with each other. They want to enjoy each other’s company. They dream of being together for each other. The healing touch of the beloved can help a person to overcome the adverse situations. It is the faith that cannot be enforced against anyone but can only be developed gradually. The two souls who have such kind of intense feelings about each other can get tied in a knot named as marriage.
Marriage is again a spiritual relation between two souls and just an imagination of being parted would terrify the mind of lovers. True love is above all the worldly things like economic, political and social status of one’s life. It is a self-chosen relationship in which interference of third may spoil the relation.
But it is not always necessary that outcome of divinely feelings would always be good rather it may be attacked by the devil in the form of social norms. In Indian society, the couples are not free to move by their own choice. The choice to marry is not free. Many times marriage becomes just a compromise or adjustment. Consequently, the soul mates when separated turn out to be parties of marriage entering into different contracts with outsiders. It becomes a marriage but nothing more than that because of absence of divinely feelings in the imposed relationship.
Specifically, speaking about Indian society, the consent of the girl is not of paramount importance. She is bound to marry anyone who is selected by her family. It is an irony that Indian girls are advised not to talk to strangers but they are compelled to marry strangers. If that stranger turns out to be her dream man, it is fine and the marriage would be a good journey, but if anything goes wrong, her whole life would be ruined like anything.
On the other hand, in order to earn a good fortune if she gathers courage enough to marry someone whom she loves, would be slaughtered by the male members of the family. As she is a girl and cannot earn stigma for family by marrying a person of her choice, who does not belong to her community but belonging to human fraternity. It may turn out to be a horrific outcome as “Honour Killing”. Some social institutions are also a facilitator for misuse of power against the couple.
Talking about the Indian society, falling in love is considered to be stigma for the family. It is alright if a male member of the society is involved but specifically talking about females, it is not considered to be one of the noblest reasons on the earth. The ultimate outcome of love is marriage (although in today’s era live in relationships are also in pace with marriages). As per hindu rituals; even supported by Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 marriage is considered to be a sacrosanct relationship. It is a union of not only two souls but also of two families. The marriage is considered more likely to be a bundle of responsibilities and all the dreams of happy married life are sacrificed for the sake of family.
The law provides that any female of 18 year and a male of 21 year may get married with their own consent and nothing lawfully can restrict them from getting married2.
The constitution of India also provides right to marry. This right is covered under article 21 which specifically talks about Right to life and it also includes right to marriage. Article 21 of Constitution of India says, “No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”3
While interpreting this right in one of the cases the court observed that the right to marry cannot be denied:
- On the basis of individual’s race.
- To those who have shown themselves to be delinquent on child welfare payments or
- To inmates.
One another aspect of Indian society is to restrict inter caste marriages. It means people belonging to different castes within same religion cannot get married. Again it is a big challenge in this changing society4,5.
Even in Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh6, the Supreme Court viewed the right to marry as a component of right to life under Art 21 of Indian Constitution the court observed that:
“This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut off social relations with the son or daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter caste marriage”.
It is not only the inter caste marriages which are problematic. The adverse position would arise when the marriage is being planned by persons of different religions. The people are ready to kill each other on the name of religion but nobody would understand the deep meaning of religion i.e. to dispense Love.
The problem highlighted in Smt. Sheela @Fatima Begum & others v. State of U.P.7 was-
A couple filled a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India stating that Petitioners married of their own free Will. Their parents and relatives are not happy with the marriage and are causing disturbance in their life with the support of the police. Allahabad High Court held that right to life and liberty under Article 21 is a fundamental right and is a superior Human Right in comparison to any private or individual right of any person. Therefore, the State as well as the State machinery particularly the police authorities are under a constitutional obligation not only to maintain law and order but to protect life and liberty of an individual and to ensure that no harm is caused to them irrespective of their age, cast, religion or status whether married or unmarried.
These are not the only cases that came before the court but many other alike cases were witnessed by the authorities. However, it is not possible to provide security cover to every individual separately. Any abrasion in discharge of such an obligation can always be complained of before the appropriate authorities whereupon the State machinery would swing into action to redress the grievance of the aggrieved party.
These are only the few examples. There are thousands of couples who are denied of their rights and liberties and are strangulated by respected members of the society.
According to a survey8,9, it is not only a national but an international problem. This social problem is existing not only in India but elsewhere as well. These figures are considered estimates and are widely believed to be severe underestimates. Due to lack of focused reporting and recording of Honour Killings internationally very little is known about the true extent of honour based violence worldwide.
- 5000 honour killings internationally per year.
- 1000 honour killings occur in India
- 1000 honour killings occur in Pakistan
- 12 honour killings per year in UK
Honour killings are not associated with particular religions or religious practice: they have been recorded across Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities. Often, honour killings are not a religiously motivated crime, but are based on personal agendas, personal ego and personal mindset. In some cases, there are psychological connotations, as studies have shown that some perpetrators have undiagnosed mental illness and psychopathic traits or disorders10.
The problem of honour killing is not a single problem rather it is a part of multiple problems which are existing in society. For example, in the state of Haryana the skewed sex ratio representing 861 girls after 1000 number of boys is telling a different story11. The crime against women has increased in the state. The women are no longer safer in the state. There is a dire need to provide protection against the other social evil termed as abortion of female foeticide. Ultimately it has leads to a different problem indicating that in Haryana bridegrooms are not getting suitable matches. The non-availability of girls in the region aroused another problem of trafficking in human beings. Specifically the girls are bought and sold from different states. It is again a different kind of crime prevalent in society. On the other if a girl is marrying as per her own wishes she would be slaughtered for the fake honour of the family. This is not a crime only against one particular individual or couple rather it is a crime against the society at large which is already facing multiple social evils.
The concept of rights and duties go side by side. If the rights of the lovers are propounded then their duties must also be notified. It is up to the girls to maintain the dignity of family. The value system, the culture of India is in the hands of youth. The youth must be liberated. Liberation means liberty from all unreasonable restrictions and taboos. The limits are determined by society. But the society and morals are never static. It keeps on changing and change is the law of nature. The society must learn to respect the decision of educated, responsible and self-dependant couples.
At last it can be said that Indian society is facing the problem of double standards those are maintained in the society. None of the problems can be solved unless and until there is genuine thinking of changing the society and change starts from oneself. Let the thinking of parents be broadened, let the girls and boys be educated, let them be self-dependant and in the mean while when they find suitable match for themselves they must be free to take next step towards leading a happy life i.e. Happy Married Life….forever.
- Mayne’s Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage, Dr. Vijendra kumar, Bharat Law House, New Delhi, 2014
- An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution of India, A.V.Dicey, Universal Law Publishing Pvt. Co.Ltd. , Delhi, 2013
- AIR 2006 SC 2522
- 2013(ID) ALR659