This case analysis is written by Aanchal Rawat a 2nd year student of R.N.P.I.S.L. & J.

Case Number

Criminal Appeal No.46 of 1963

Equivalent Citation

1965 AIR 942, 1965 SCR (1) 243

Bench

Hon’ble Justice J.R.Mudholkar, Hon’ble Justice K.Subba Rao and Hon’ble Justice M. Hidayatullah.

Decided on

 9th September 1964

Relevant Act/ Section:

 Indian Penal Code

Section 361: Kidnapping from Lawful Guardianship

Section 363: Punishment for Kidnapping

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

In 1960, S. Natarajan was Assistant Secretary in the Department of Industries and Cooperation for the Government of Madras. At that time he with his wife and two daughters was living in Nungambakkam. Rama was the oldest daughter, Savitri was the youngest daughter. Rama at that time was studying in the Madras Medical College; Savitri was a student of the second year B.Sc. class in Ethiraj College.

While living there, Savitri the youngest daughter of S. Natarajan became friendly with a neighbour named Varadarajan who was residing in the house next door of S. Natarajan. They both Starting talking with each other. On 30th September 1960 at 9:00 am, Rama saw both Savitri and Varadarajan talking to each other; she had also seen them talking to each other previously many times. So, Rama asked Savitri why she was talking to Varadarajan, Savitri in return told her that she wanted to marry Varadarajan. On the Same Day, Rama told her Father (S. Natarajan) about Savitri and Varadarajan when he returned home around 11:00 am. When S. Natarajan went to ask Savitri about it, she started crying but did not say anything. So on the same day, S. Natarajan took Savitri to Kodambakkam to live with his relative (K. Natarajan) with the thought of keeping Savitri far away from Varadarajan for some time.

On 1st October 1960, Savitri left the house of K. Natarajan around 10:00 am and telephoned Varadarajan to meet her at a particular road of that area and, she walked to that place. When she reached there, Varadarajan had already arrived in his car. Savitri got into the car and then both she and Varadarajan went to the house of P.T. Sami at Mylapore intending to make him the witness of their marriage at Registrar’s office. They picked up P.T.Sami and then they went shopping at Govindarajulu Naidu in Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road where Varadarajan purchased two gundus and Tirumangalyam which were selected by Savitri and then they went to Registrar’s office. There they registered their marriage and, as witness P.T.Sami and P. K. Mar, a person who was co-accused before the Presidency Magistrate but was acquitted by him signed the document. After registering their marriage, both Varadarajan and Savitri went to Ajanta Hotel and stayed there for a day. Varadarajan purchased some Sarees and blouses for Savitri and, on the next day, they went to Sattur by train.

On 4th October 1960, they went to Sirukulam and lived there for 10 to 12 days and then went to Coimbatore and then to Tanjore. In Tanjore, they were found by the police who were investigating the kidnapping case of Savitri on the Complaint made by S. Natarajan.

They both returned to Madras on 3rd November 1960.

The case went to Madras High court; there the court convicted Varadarajan guilty for kidnapping and awarded One-year Rigorous Punishment to him. Then Varadarajan appealed against the judgement given by the High court of Madras in the Supreme Court. He appealed by special leave. The Supreme Court Acquitted the Appellant (Varadarajan) from the sentence passed by Madras High Court.

Issues before the Court

  • Whether a minor can abandon the Guardianship of his or her guardian?
  • Whether taking out a lawful Guardianship has been established or not?

Ratio of the Case

The court observed the following things:

  • Savitri admitted that on 1st October 1960 she left the house of K. Natarajan and telephoned Varadarajan to meet her at a particular place. From the words said by Savitri, we can see that Varadarajan did not suggest Savitri leave the house of K. Natarajan and nor Savitri leave the house at the instance.
  • Savitri had stated that she wanted to marry the appellant. Varadarajan had not forced Savitri to go to the Registrar’s office and to marry him. 
  • The insistence of marriage came from Savitri and not from Varadarajan. 
  • The fact that Savitri accompanied the appellant all along is consistent with Savitri’s own desire to be the wife of the appellant in which the desire of accompanying him wherever he went was implicit.

From this, we can say that the appellant is not guilty of taking away Savitri out of the keeping of her father. Savitri voluntarily accompanied Varadarajan and the law does not cast a duty on Varadarajan of taking Savitri back to her father’s house or even of telling her not to accompany him.

Savitri was not a child of tender years that she cannot think for herself. She was on the verge of attaining majority. Savitri was capable of knowing what is good and bad for her. Savitri was an educated girl as she was a senior college student and she has been living in the city probably all her life. So she is capable of thinking for herself and acting on her own rather than an unlettered girl who has lived her whole life in a rural area. 

No offence under Section 361 has been established as the appellant has not taken Savitri out of the Guardianship of her father. She voluntarily left. 

Following cases were referred to in the court:

  • Abdul Sather’s case (54 M.L.J. 456.) 
  •  R. v. Kumarasami (2 M. H. C. R. 331.) 
  • State v. Harbansing Kisansing (I.L.R. [1954] Bom 784.)
  •  Reg. v. Christian Olifier (X Cox’s Criminal Cases, 402.).
  •  Rex v. James Jarvis (XX Cox’s Criminal Cases, 249.)
  •  Rajappan v. State of Kerala (I.L.R. [1960] Kerala, 481.) 
  • Chathu v. Govindan Kutty (I.L.R. [1957] Kerala, 591), 
  • And many more cases.

The question whether a minor can abandon the guardianship of his/her guardian is difficult to answer.

Decision of the Court

The Court held that no offence under S. 363 has been established against the appellant and therefore he is acquitted.

Also, the Sentence and conviction passed upon him is set aside.

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