1. The petitioners have filed this Criminal Revision Application challenging the legality and correctness of an order, dated September 20, 1971 passed by the learned Presidency Magistrate, 14th Court, Girgaum, Bombay, under Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Criminal Case No. 162/S of 1971 pending before me.
2. The first petitioner Lokumal and the second petitioner Laxmibai are the parents and the third petitioner Kishinchand is the paternal grandfather of a young lady by name Kamini, who is now aged about nineteen years. The first respondent Ellis is a handsome young man, aged about twenty one years and by birth, he is a Jew. Kamini and Ellis were studying in Hill Grange High School, Bombay and during the years 1966 to 1968, they were in the same class. Being classmates they became acquainted with each other and their acquaintance soon developed into close friendship. Their mutual attraction became so strong that they eventually decided to marry and live together as husband and wife. Both of them passed the Secondary School Certificate Examination held in March or April 1968. Kamini thereupon joined Sophia College, Bombay and in January 1969, Ellis was sent by his parents to Canada for further studies. After going to Canada, Ellis pursued Ids studies and he also took up some employment. Kamini and Ellis Were writing letters to each other and their correspondence shows that they did not give up their original idea of getting married and living together as husband and wife. Ellis ultimately came to Bombay on a short leave on October 17, 1970 for the purpose of marrying Kamini and taking her with him to Canada.
3. After he came to Bombay, Ellis came to know that being a Jew, he could not marry Kamini who was a Hindu. Ellis got over this difficulty by getting himself converted to Hinduism and on November 2, 1970, he and Kamini went through a form of marriage according to Vedic rites at Arya Samaj Mandir, Vithalbhai Patel Road, Bombay 4. After the marriage, Ellis and Kamini stayed together at some friend's place. Kamini's parents and other relations, however, did not know anything about these developments, they having been kept completely in the dark about these things from the very beginning. After having stayed With Ellis for six days after the marriage, Kamini returned to her parents. Ellis made arrangements to go back to Canada and took out a passport for Kamini. He was, however, persuaded by one of Kamini's relations not to take her to Canada immediately and, therefore, Ellis alone went to Canada on November 18, 1970. He was seen off at the air-port by Kamini, her father Lokumal, sister Meeta and her husband Ghanashyam. After Ellis went to Canada leaving Kamini with her parents at Bombay, he and Kamini continued writing letters to each other as before. During this period, Ellis's parents also went to Canada and stayed there for some time. They, however, decided to return to India, Ellis also came along with them to Bombay on April 22, 1971.
4. According to Ellis, on his arrival in Bombay, the petitioners did not allow him to meet Kamini or talk to her even on telephone and he found that Kamini was not allowed to go out of the house of her parents or to have communication with him in any manner and she had been made a virtual prisoner. A civil suit, bearing No. 5959 of 1971 also came to be filed in the City Civil Court, Bombay, seeking a declaration that the alleged marriage between Kamini and Ellis was null and void and some other ancillary reliefs. Therefore, on May 12, 1971, Ellis filed Miscellaneous Petition No. 440 of 1971 in this Court for a writ of Habeas Corpus under Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 491 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. That petition was, however, withdrawn on July 9, 1971 and Ellis thereupon filed a complaint in the Court of the Presidency Magistrate, Girgaum, Bombay on August 4, 1971 alleging that the petitioners had Wrongfully restrained the movements of Kamini and she had been illegally and Wrongfully confined in the house of her parents with the sole object of marrying her to one Ghanashyam. He also alleged that the petitioners were likely to take Kamini outside India to some place such as Hongkong for the purpose of getting her married a second time. The learned Magistrate issued process under Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code against all the three accused mentioned in the complaint. He also issued a search warrant under Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The search warrant was executed by the police on the following day. Kamini Was found in the house of her parents and she was produced before the learned Magistrate at his residence at 9.30 p.m. Kamini told, the learned Magistrate that she was a major and her parents had not exercised, any influence upon her to stay with them. She also stated that she desired, to go back to her parents. Kamini was allowed to go back to her parents on executing a bond to remain present in Court whenever required. On August 17, 1971, the learned Magistrate examined Kamini in the presence of both the parties and their learned advocates. She again denied having been wrongfully restrained or wrongfully confined by any of the accused and she told, the learned Magistrate that 'she was moving alone in Bombay frequently and making use of the telephone freely.' She further told the learned Magistrate that she did not, however, have any talk with Ellis as she, having realised about six days after the marriage that she had committed a mistake in marrying Ellis, did not want to talk to him.
5. Although Kamini thus denied twice that she had been kept under wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement by the accused, the learned Magistrate permitted the learned advocates appearing on both the sides to address him 'at great length' and after hearing their arguments, he reached the conclusion that the accused being in a peculiar position in relation to Kamini, they had made her state what they liked, but that could hardly be the truth. He, therefore, passed the following order on September 20, 1971:
For these reasons, I have to take Kamani in custody and commit her to the Rescue Home for a period of 14 days. In order that Kamini's mind is not influenced by anybody on either Side, I would further direct that no interviews with Kamini would be permitted by the authorities of Rescue Home.
It is the legality, correctness and propriety of this order that is being challenged in this petition by the petitioners who are the accused in criminal case No. 162/S of 1971 filed by Ellis in the Court of the learned Magistrate. Kamini has also filed, a separate application, being Criminal Revision Application No. 880 of 1971. This judgment will dispose of both the Criminal Revision Applications.
6. When this matter was called out for hearing, Mr. Adi Gandhi, learned Counsel for the first respondent Ellis, raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of Criminal Revision Application No. 854 of 1971. He urged that none of the three petitioners is in any way affected by the order which they seek to challenge and consequently, they have no right to move this Court in revision and the application filed by them is not maintainable at law. I do not find any substance whatever in this preliminary objection raised by Mr. Adi Gandhi. In the first place, all the three petitioners are parties to the criminal case in which the impugned order is passed. Secondly, the learned Magistrate has held that the petitioners being in a peculiar position in relation to Kamini, they had made her state what they liked. He has observed that he had 'no hesitation in holding that what Kamini now says in the witness box is a result of a guided mind. Her statement is that of a person whose mind is in confinement and whose movements are controlled.' Thirdly, Kamini had clearly and expressly told the learned Magistrate that she desired to go back to the house of her parents with whom she was living. If the petitioners had not immediately moved this Court, Kamini could not have returned to them at least for fourteen days and she would have been required to suffer irregular imprisonment during this period in a Rescue Home. Under these circumstances, the petitioners have undoubtedly a legal right to move this Court in revision against the impugned order of the learned Magistrate, not only in their own right, but also on behalf of Kamini who was admittedly living with them and to whom she wanted to go back. In Emperor v. Kamal Dattalraya : AIR1943Bom304 , Sir John Beaumont C.J. has pointed out that there are a good many instances in which applications in revision, made on behalf of a party who has not appealed, have been entertained by this Court. Moreover, Kamini has also filed a separate application, being Criminal Revision Application No. 880 of 1971 on September 80, 1971 challenging the impugned order. Therefore, what really surprises me is that a senior counsel like Mr. Adi Gandhi should have thought it proper and necessary to raise such a preliminary objection which, in my opinion, is clearly untenable.
7. I shall now advert to the merits of the case. In view of the pendency of Civil Suit No. 5959 of 1971 in the City Civil Court, Bombay, for a declaration that the marriage between Kamini and Ellis is null and void and for other ancillary reliefs and of criminal case No. 162/S of 1971 under Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code against the petitioners in the Court of the Presidency Magistrate, 14th Court, Girgaum, Bombay, it is necessary to refrain from saying anything which may possibly prejudice any of the parties to the civil and criminal proceedings. I shall, therefore, refer to only those few facts which are necessary for the disposal of these two petitions. There is some dispute between the parties with regard to Kamini's birth date. According to the petitioners, Kamini was born at Jodhpur on or about February 25, 1953 and consequently, she was a minor at the time of her alleged marriage with Ellis on November 2, 1970. The case of the first respondent Ellis, however, is that Kamini Was born on July 31, 1952 as stated in the certificate issued by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary Education, Poona. There is, however, no dispute between the parties, and, both of them are agreed that when criminal case No. 162/S of 1971 was filed by Ellis on August 4, 1971 Kamini was above 18 years of age. It is also not disputed that except for six days after the marriage, Kamini has been living with her parents throughout. When the search warrant was executed, Kamini was found in the house of her parents.
8. In order to show that Kamini's movements were wrongfully restrained and she was wrongfully confined to the house of her parents, Mr. Adi Gandhi sought to rely strongly on the letters by Kamini to Ellis when he was in Canada. But the last of such letters produced on record is dated January 15, 1971. Ellis was admittedly in Canada upto April 22, 1971. It was quite unnecessary for the petitioners to restrict Kamini's movements or wrongfully confine her in the house when Ellis was far away in Canada. Such a necessity could possibly arise only after Ellis returned to Bombay along with his parents on April 22, 1971. The material question, therefore, for consideration is whether there is any evidence of wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement of Kamini during the period from April 22, to August 5, 1971. The only material on record on this point consists of Kamini's statements when she was produced before the learned Magistrate on August 5, 1971 and when she was examined by the learned Magistrate on August 17, 1971. On both these occasions Kamini denied having been kept under wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement and she told the learned Magistrate that she desired to go back to her parents, Kamini being a major, these statements made by her should have ordinarily been regarded, in the absence of any other evidence to the contrary, as sufficient to show prima facie that there was no case for taking any further action under Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The learned Magistrate, however, refused to accept Kamini's statement and relying upon the contents of the letters addressed by her to Ellis during the period from November 1970 to January 15, 1971, he reached the conclusion that the petitioners being in a peculiar position in relation to Kamini, they had made her state what they liked, but that could hardly be the truth. In doing so, he overlooked the fact that the letters were of a period nearly eight months prior to the date of the complaint. He also overlooked the legal position that these letters could not be used against Kamini without her attention being pointedly drawn to the material statements therein and without giving her an opportunity to explain those statements if she could. In any ease, what was really the position at the time of filing of the complaint in August 1971 is important and material and not what Kamini wrote to Ellis nearly eight months prior to that date. As stated earlier, on this point, we have only the statements of Kamini before the learned Magistrate. When these petitions were being argued before me, Kamini was present in Court throughout and I questioned her in my Chamber with a view to ascertain the real position. She told me in very clear and unambiguous terms that she has not been wrongfully confined or wrongfully restrained in the house by any of the petitioners and she is free to move about anywhere. She further told me that she had in fact joined some cooking class and was also thinking of rejoining her College. She strongly protested against the impugned order directing her detention in a Rescue Home for fourteen days and expressed that she should be allowed to stay With her parents who, according to her, love her very much and are extremely kind and indulgent to her.
9. Apart from what I have stated above, the impugned order of the learned Magistrate seems to me to be clearly unsustainable in law. Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides:
If any Presidency Magistrate, Magistrate of the first class or Sub-divisional Magistrate has reason to believe that any person is confined under such circumstances that the confinement amounts to an offence, he may issue a search-warrant, and the person to whom such warrant is directed may search for the person so confined; and such search shall be made in accordance therewith, and the person, if found, shall be immediately taken before a Magistrate, who shall make such order as in the circumstances of the case seems proper.
The section applies in a case Where a person is wrongfully confined irrespective of whether that person is or is not the victim of kidnapping or abduction. It empowers the Magistrate to issue a search warrant if he has reason to believe that any person is confined under such circumstances that the confinement amounts to an offence. Having regard to the allegations made by Ellis in his complaint, the learned Magistrate could reasonably believe that Kamini had been kept under wrongful restraint and/or wrongful confinement under such circumstances that the confinement amounted to an offence and consequently he had ample jurisdiction to issue a search warrant under the provisions of Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Mr. J.C. Bhatt, learned Counsel for the petitioners, also did not seek to dispute this position. He, however, seriously urged that after Kamini who is sui juris was produced before the learned Magistrate and she denied having been kept under Wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement and expressed a desire to go back to her parents, the learned Magistrate had no jurisdiction to order her detention in a Rescue Home or at any other place. According to Mr. Bhatt, in passing the impugned order directing Kamini's detention in a Rescue Home for fourteen days, the learned Magistrate exceeded his authority and jurisdiction and the order is, therefore, illegal.
10. Mr. Bhatt is right in saying that in the case of a person like Kamini, who is sui juris, Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not empower the Magistrate to order his or her detention, if the person concerned has not committed and is not likely to commit any offence. The words 'shall make such order as in the circumstances of the case seems proper' in Section 100 do not vest in the Magistrate any such jurisdiction. Any order made in exercise of the discretion vested in the Magistrate is subject always to the implied proviso that the order is other-Wise legal. In the present case, Kamini was not an accused, nor was there any allegation of any offence against her. She was admittedly not a minor, nor was she suffering from any other disability. She denied having been kept under wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement by the petitioners and expressed her desire to go back to her parents. Any order of detention of such a person would inevitably offer d against one or more of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
11. This very point came up for consideration before a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in Bholanath Goswami v. Com. of Police (1953) 61 C.W.N. 330. In that case, a lady by name Saraswati Dasi was residing at the house of Bholanath Goswami, who was a lawyer by profession. Her husband asked for a warrant for the discovery of the lady and a search warrant under Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was issued by the Police Magistrate, Sealdah. Pursuant to the said warrant, the lady was discovered at the house of Bholanath Goswami and she was produced before the Magistrate along with her children. The lady refused to go to her husband on the ground that he had treated her with great harshness and cruelty. The learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that in view of the pendency of the criminal charge of kidnapping and wrongful detention, it was only proper that the lady should be kept in neutral custody and accordingly, he directed that the lady be sent to Nari Kalyan Ashram at 22, Canal West Road, Calcutta. When the matter came up before the High Court, it was held that the order of the learned Magistrate directing the lady to be kept in detention was wholly without jurisdiction and her detention at the Nari Kalyan Ashram was in the nature of an irregular imprisonment which was not warranted by any provision of law. Their Lordships quoted with approval the following observations of Henderson J. Thakamni v. Nepal Chandra 43 C.W.N. 363 in regard to the scope of Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure:
The section provides that a Magistrate on the person being produced, shall make such order as in the circumstances of the case seems proper. I am bound to say that, in my opinion, this order was both ill-advised and indiscreet; nor was her name included in the list of twenty-seven witnesses. She was as much entitled to her liberty as anybody else. The effect of the Magistrate's order is to deprive her of that liberty and to sentence her to a sort of irregular imprisonment for no reason whatever.
In Lalmani Devi v. State : AIR1957Pat689 , their Lordships of the Patna High Court also took the same view. It was held that
The fundamental right of personal liberty is guaranteed to a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution which provides that a person cannot be deprived of this right except in accordance with procedure established by law. Section 100 applies in a case where o person is wrongfully confined irrespective of whether that person is or is not the victim of kidnapping or abduction. It gives power to the Magistrate to pass such order as he considers proper in the circumstances of a case but that does not mean that he can lightly and without good cause deprive a, person of his or her personal liberty when no accusation is made that the person has committed or is likely to commit any offence.
12. Mr. Adi Gandhi, however, urged that in the case of a person, who is discovered under a Warrant issued under Section 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code, his or her detention does not offend against any of the fundamental rights and in support of his argument, he relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Stale of Punjab v. Ajaib Singh : 1953CriLJ180 . In that case, the point which their Lordships considered was whether some provisions of the Abducted Persons (Recovery and Restoration) Act, 1949, were unconstitutional as being in violation of Article 22, Clauses (7) and (2) of the Constitution. In the course of the judgment, their Lordships have observed that recovering and taking custody of the victims of kidnapping and abduction are not regarded as arrests at all within the meaning of the Code of Criminal Procedure and hence they do not come within the protection of Articles 22(1) and (2). This ease has no application whatever to the facts of the present case.
13. From the above discussion, it is clear that the impugned order passed by the learned Magistrate is wholly unsustainable both on the merits and also in law. Kamini would conceivably be the most important witness for the prosecution in the criminal case and, I would have, therefore, ordinarily called upon her to execute a bond for her appearance in Court for giving evidence. I am, however, told, by the learned Counsel for the petitioners-accused that Kamini has not even been cited as a witness in the complaint and I, therefore, do not propose to pass such an order. The impugned order passed by the learned Magistrate being clearly illegal and unsustainable in law, it is hereby set aside and Kamini is set at liberty forthwith and she may go wherever she likes. The bond, executed by her in the Court of the learned Presidency Magistrate on August 5, 1971 shall stand cancelled. The Rule is made absolute.