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In our country marriages are still decided by caste, status, likes and dislikes of parents. Young people who fall in love often receive a rude shock when progressive parents suddenly change tack and refuse to accept their choice of partner. Love relations are often not recognised or revealed to relatives. These people are forced in to arranged marriages. If the compulsion is too much to bear many young couples resort to ending their lives.
In a historical judgement at New Delhi yesterday, the Supreme Court of India stated that Women in India often sacrifice their love and relationships to accept their parents' decision.
It was a judgement that set aside the conviction and life sentence of a man. This person had survived a suicide pact with a woman in an incident of 1995 . The lovers had secretly married but knew their families would not honour their marriage. They decided to end their lives together.
The man had told the trial court that after resistance from their families, they decided to commit suicide. They had together consumed Copper Sulphate at a secluded house in an under-construction building in Jaipur. The man said that perhaps the quantity of the chemical consumed by him was less as compared to the woman. Her health deteriorated and he went out to seek help from neighbours. The 23-year-old woman could not be saved because when he returned, he found her hanging. She died at a hospital later.
This man was then convicted by her parents for allegedly killing her. They felt that the girl had agreed to marry by their choice. He probably killed her because of a sense of betrayal. The man was awarded life term by a trial court and the verdict was upheld by the Rajasthan High court.
The Supreme court however noted that the woman first "unwillingly" agreed to accept her parents' wish and discontinued the relation but later she apparently changed her mind and married secretly. Floral garlands, bangles and vermilion were found from the scene of the incident .
"Such a reaction on the part of a girl to sacrifice her love and accept a decision of her parents, even though unwillingly, is a common phenomenon in this country," a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan opined.
The woman was physically abused by her family and was mercilessly beaten even on the day of incident in November 1995. "When she was madly in love and wanted to marry her lover, there is a possibility that after receiving such kind of violent treatment by her parents, she may have decided to revolt. She probably proposed to her boyfriend that they should get married in secret for which they chose a secluded place," the bench noted in its order.
The man had been accused that "When was not able to get a woman he wanted, he went to the extent of killing her. Since he could not tolerate her alliance with any other person." However the Supreme Court ruled out such a certainty. It stated, "No evidence of this nature has surfaced. It is not even possible for the prosecution to state any such things as whatever actually happened was only known to two persons, one of whom is dead and other is in dock,"
The bench observed that criminal cases cannot be decided on the basis of hypothesis of the girl's parents. They acquitted the man holding that the prosecution has not been able to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
This case just proves how outdated some of our traditions have become. What can be more unfortunate than a person choosing death over living in a forced marriage. Parents need to learn their lessons before it is too late.