In an important judgment, the Allahabad High Court has held that the question of considering Aadhaar card and PAN card or medico-legal test report does not arise if a high school certificate is available for determining the date of birth.
A single-judge bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Ankit and another. The writ petition has been filed by the petitioners claiming themselves to be major and married on February 28, 2021, and seeking a direction to the respondents to protect and enforce fundamental right to life and personal liberty as guaranteed under Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India. Further, a writ of mandamus has been sought upon the respondents not to interfere in their married life.
Facts as disclosed by the petitioners in the writ petition are that petitioner no. 1/ (Ankit) is aged about 21 years and is Hindu by religion and Jat by caste. A copy of the Aadhaar Card as well as PAN Card has been filed to establish his age.
Similarly, the age of Petitioner no. 2 (Girl) is disclosed as 19 years and a copy of the Aadhar Card and PAN Card has been brought on the writ petition. It has been stated that respondents as well as other family members are creating trouble for petitioners and respondents along with other villagers had tried to take forcible possession of petitioner no. 2.
It is contended by counsel for the petitioners that when there appeared to be threat to the life of petitioners, they on February 28, 2021 had moved application before the concerned police station.
He further contended that respondents had tried to lodge a FIR against the petitioners, as such, the petitioners had informed the police authorities regarding their intention.
It is further submitted that petitioner has already applied for registration of marriage with the marriage registration officer on March 22, 2021, copy of the online submission of form for registration of marriage has been brought on record to the supplementary affidavit filed by the petitioners on March 24, 2021.
Sundeep Shukla, counsel for the respondents, filed a counter affidavit wherein it has been stated that the date of birth of petitioner no. 2 is November 3, 2004 and she is a minor in view of Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
He further contended that the said date of birth has been recorded in the High School certificate of the girl, issued on October 27, 2020 by the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, U.P., copy of the High School Marks Sheet has been brought on record to the supplementary affidavit filed on April 19, 2021.
Further, a second supplementary affidavit has been filed on behalf of respondents on July 19, 2021 bringing on record the four First Information Reports lodged against petitioner no. 1 at various police stations as well as the Gangster Act which has been imposed by the State Government upon him.
It is contended by Counsel for respondents that petitioner no. 1 is a man of criminal antecedents and has enticed away the minor girl who is only 17 years of age.
Replying to the counter affidavit and supplementary affidavit, a reply has been filed on behalf of petitioners wherein it has been stated that the date of birth in school certificate was manipulated by respondents as earlier her date of birth was shown as August 24, 2001 as mentioned in school certificate upto Class VIII but different date has been recorded from Class IX onwards.
Petitioners have also brought on record the First Information Report that has been lodged by the mother of petitioner no. 2 against respondents wherein mention of false date of birth of petitioner no. 2 is mentioned.
The medical report of petitioner no. 2 was placed before the Court by Standing Counsel on July 20, 2021 wherein it was stated that the age of the girl is about 19 years. The matter then came up on July 27, 2021. On the said date, the mother of the girl appeared before the Court, who was identified by Counsel for respondent no. 4, /Sandeep Shukla and submitted before the Court that petitioner no. 1 had taken away her daughter who was minor and the age of the girl has been correctly recorded in the High School Marksheet.
“Having heard Counsel for the parties and from perusal of record, the question which emerges for consideration by this Court is that, whether petitioner no. 2 whose date of birth is recorded in the High School Marksheet, if taken to be correct, is November 03, 2004 then she is minor at the time of alleged marriage to have been performed with petitioner no. 1 or weightage is to be given to medico-legal evidence which has come up before the Court in the form of medical report of the girl/petitioner no. 2,” the Court observed.
The Court noted that, from the reading of Section 94 of Act 2015, which is in pari materia to Rule 12 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 (hereinafter called as ‘Rules 2007’) framed under Section 68 (1) of Act, 2000 provides that only in absence of certificate from High School or Matriculation or equivalent certificate from concerned examination board or birth certificate given by corporation or municipal authority then only the age shall be determined by an ossification test or any other latest age determination test.
“In the case, the argument of Counsel for the petitioners to the extent that in the first information report lodged by the mother of petitioner No.2 against respondent No.4 finds place that the age of the girl given in the High School Marks Sheet was not correct, and according to him relying upon the said first information report the petitioner No.2 was born in the year 2003 cannot be accepted. However, neither any application for correction of date of birth in the High School Marks Sheet has been moved to the concerned Board nor there is any denial on behalf of the petitioners that the age disclosed in the High School certificate is not correct,” the Court said.
The Court held that,
Once it has been established from the High School certificate that petitioner No.2 was born on November 3, 2004 and the same having been not challenged by petitioner No.2, no question arises for relying upon the medico-legal evidence for determining the age of the girl and discarding documentary evidence, which according to Section 94 of Act, 2015 has a primacy over the medical examination of a child in conflict with law.
Apart from this, the oral statement made by the mother of the girl before this Court that the age recorded in the High School certificate was correct cannot be disbelieved solely on the basis of the date of birth recorded in the AADHAR Card of petitioner No.2 as well as the medical report. A Division Bench of the High Court in case of Parvati Kumari and others vs. State of U.P. and others, decided on January 09, 2019 has held that entry of date of birth in Aadhaar Card is not conclusive.
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The Court observed that,
Apart from relying upon Aadhar Card, medical report and decision of Apex Court in case of Suhani & another (supra), nothing was placed before the Court by the petitioners to substantiate their claim as far as the age of petitioner No.2 is concerned. Thus, once the High School certificate has been brought on record, which having not been denied or challenged by petitioner No.2, no question arises for considering the medico-legal evidence or Aadhar Card for determining the age of the girl.
“Thus, the Court finds that the relief prayed by the petitioners for protection cannot be granted as petitioner No.2 has not become major on the date when it is alleged that she has married petitioner No.1. The writ petition fails and is hereby dismissed,” the Court ordered.