Kerala High Court imposes ₹25k costs on man who concealed his marriage while moving Habeas Corpus plea for releasing girlfriend

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The Kerala High Court on Monday imposed costs of ₹25,000 on a man who concealed his marriage while moving a habeas corpus plea for release of his girlfriend allegedly detained by her parents [Shameer H v State of Kerala & Ors.].

A division bench of Justices Alexander Thomas and Sophy Thomas had already spoken to the girlfriend through video conference before it came to light that the petitioner is a married man with divorce proceedings underway before a family court.

The Court, therefore, directed him to explain his actions.

“We are really agonized that the petitioner has suppressed these crucial aspects regarding his marital status, before this Court…Before we proceed to consider the petition on merits, it is ordered that the petitioner will file an affidavit, explaining the reasons as to why, he has suppressed these crucial aspects and also giving the full details of his marital status, divorce proceedings, etc. The learned counsel for the petitioner would submit that the petitioner would express his unconditional apology in the said affidavit and that he would pay any exemplary cost that may be ordered by this Court”, the order stated.

Even though the usual course in such a situation of suppression of facts would be to dismiss the plea, considering the circumstances, the Court directed the petitioner to file an apology and pay ₹25,000 as costs to be deposited with the Mediation Centre attached to the Court.

“Ordinarily, in a case of this nature, where the petitioner has suppressed vital and relevant factual aspects, the court will have to dismiss the petition filed by the petitioner, in having invoked the equitable jurisdiction with unclean hands by suppression of material facts. However, in view of the present state of affairs, we feel that the petition could be entertained, but only on the petitioner paying exemplary cost. Accordingly, it is ordered that even though the petitioner deserves heavy cost, taking a lenient view, cost amount is fixed at Rs. 25,000/- (Rupees twenty five thousand),” the Court ordered.

The Habeas Corpus plea moved by the man claimed that he was in a relationship with the alleged detenue, his girlfriend, and that she was being illegally detained by by her father and brother even though she wants to live with the petitioner.

However, it was later revealed to the Court that the petitioner was in fact married and that a divorce petition filed by his wife was pending before a Family Court.

The petitioner contended that he had already filed No Objection Memo in the divorce petition filed by his wife and was expecting the formal decree for dissolution of the marriage to be finalised by the family court shortly.

Thereafter, the petitioner and the alleged detenue intend to solemnize their marriage in accordance with the provisions contained in the Special Marriage Act, it was submitted.

The Court called for the details of the divorce proceedings before the family court and posted the matter to be considered again on October 7.

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