Forced to marry her maternal uncle: SC directs J&K Police to ensure girl’s safety
The Supreme Court on 12th October issued an order to Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police in a Habeas Corpus Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution by Ms. Seema Bhoria for ensuring the safety of a 26-year-old Kashimiri woman, who is was being forced to marry her maternal uncle by her parents. The Supreme Court on 12th October issued an order to Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police for ensuring the safety of a 26-year-old Kashimiri woman, who is was being forced to marry her maternal uncle by her parents. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also issued a notice to the J&K Police and sought their reply in two weeks. The Kashimiri woman approached the Supreme Court through a friend, Seema Bhoria, to whom she communicated her ordeal via emails and asked her represent her in the court. Bhoria, through Human Rights Law Network filed a petition asking for her friend’s release from a shelter home in Srinagar where she was lodged after she complained to the police. Harassed and threatened Her ordeal began when she refused to get married to her maternal uncle. The uncle, who is married and has two children, was being propositioned as husband by the woman’s parents, according to the petition. The woman, who has a master’s degree in Biotechnology, told her parents that she does not want to get married to her maternal uncle and wants to pursue academics. The woman accused her parents and extended family members for constantly mentally abusing her and threatened to kill her in many occasions. She alleged that her family had adopted strategies of not feeding her, giving her a lot of household chores and making her sleep on the floor in a bid to make her agree to their terms. The petition also said that the family members used to confiscate her phone, so that she could not reach out to anybody for help. The petition also states that she feared for her life as her maternal uncle has a lot of influence and holds leverage in the community and he may use it to kill her. However, she was able to write a complaint to J&K Police and was taken to a social welfare house but the according to the petition, she forced to move and illegally detained in Nari Niketan, as her family and maternal uncles have “close contacts” in the police and local administration. At Nari Niketan, no records were kept of her admittance and her parents, maternal uncle kept threatening to kill. On 24th September, she also complained to the Prime Minister through an online portal called the “Public Grievance Portal”, where her complaint was registered and on 30th September she to the National Commission for Women, where she also added that her mother had threatened to kill her if she revealed anything to anybody. She gave details of beating. On 1st October, she wrote an e-mail to her friend Seema Bhoria who is the present petitioner about the sexual and physical torture by her family members and relatives. Earlier, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the woman’s friend should approach the J&K High Court. However, looking at the facts of the case, the bench agreed to order for her safety and agreed to examine her plea. Bhoria’s counsel, Shankari Mishra said that illegal confinement of the Kashimiri woman in Nari Niketan (with no mention of her on the official records of Nari Niketan) deprived her of her liberty and expression of choice which is enshrined under Article 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution. Because the detenue, (Kashimiri woman) was kept in Nari Niketan without the authority of any law or in contravention of the procedure established by law which authorizes such arrest or detention, such arrest or detention is itself invalid and unconstitutional. Another counsel for the petitioner, advocate Aditi Gupta said, "It is surprising when we come across a case where the woman, who is not only major but also had access to education, is being harassed, tortured and sexually assaulted for her want and protest to be free. In addition to the prayer that the DGP ensure her safety, we also sought for her rescue from Nari Niketan and production before the Hon'ble Supreme Court as her safety is in severe danger. We are positive and hopeful that the Hon'ble Chief Justice would pass appropriate orders to ensure her rescue from the State."