A division bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta of the Supreme Court while allowing a Habeas Corpus petition filed by a man for the release of his partner from her parents’ custody, expressed criticism towards the Karnataka High Court for postponing a Habeas Corpus petition for too long.
“We must place on record our anguish at the manner in which the High Court of Karnataka has dealt with the present matter. When in a habeas corpus petition the detenue (detained woman) 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 fourteen occasions and now postponing it indefinitely and posting it in the year 2025 depicts a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the High Court”.
The petition was filed by the male partner of a woman who was allegedly being illegally detained by her parents.
The bench noted that as a result of the High Court’s laxity, the petitioner (the woman’s partner) and his parents were forced to make frequent trips from Dubai to Bengaluru to ensure the safety and well-being of the detained woman.
“When the question of liberty of a person is involved even a day’s delay counts”.
The petitioner was in a nine-year relationship with a woman whom he had studied with in Dubai. However, the woman’s parents allegedly brought her back to Bengaluru by force when they discovered about their relationship. The parents confiscated the woman’s personal devices and documents to prevent her from leaving the country.
The petitioner filed a Habeas Corpus case in the Karnataka High Court, which asked the State authorities to file a status report. The woman was interviewed by the police the next day, where she revealed that she was taken away forcefully by her parents under the pretext of her grandfather’s illness and was now being pressured into an arranged marriage.
The High Court requested the woman to appear before the court on for an interaction with the bench. However, the hearing was adjourned fourteen times, and the case was eventually posted on April 10, 2025.
As a result, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court, which issued notice on January 3, 2024.
On January 17, the 25-year-old woman, her parents, and the petitioner’s parents appeared before the Supreme Court. The petitioner was absent due to a work commitment and was represented by his parents. The bench had individual interactions with all the parties, considering the sensitive nature of the case.
During the interaction, the woman expressed her desire to go back to Dubai and pursue her career, having already missed three job interviews due to her house arrest-like situation. The woman’s parents informed the court that they supported her career choices but wanted her to be financially stable and secure.
The Supreme Court noted that the woman was highly qualified and qualifications and mature enough to make her own decisions.
After weighing the facts, the Court arrived at the decision that the woman’s detention with her parents was unlawful.
As a result, the bench ordered the immediate return of critical documents, such as her passport, within 48 hours to enable her to travel overseas.
The bench also granted the petition and released her, taking into account her maturity and desire to accompany her partner’s parents. Furthermore, the bench cautioned the woman’s parents that if they fail to comply with the Court’s directives, they would be subject to contempt of court proceedings.