When A Boy And Girl Elope, Girl’s Family Often Files Complaints Of Rape And Kidnapping. What Can The Boy Do In Such Circumstances?
What is Elopement?
Elopement is nothing but an act of running away for the purpose of getting married which could be for various reasons. However, elopement could also be viewed as a marriage concluded in a very secretive, unexpected and sudden manner. It generally involves a very fast and expeditious running away from one’s place cooperatively with one’s loved one with an aim or plan of getting married.
In India, it is usually witnessed that an act of elopement takes place for the reason that the people who intend to get married want to avoid different kinds of objection from parents and relatives or religious barriers. In India, for an elopement to be valid and legal, it is necessary that both the parties involved must be major according to law (Minimum age of 21 years for a boy and 18 years for a girl) and the elopement must be consensual. There must not be the presence of any kind of force or threat in order to get the elopement accomplished. An act of elopement is often followed by immense actions and attempts by the parents and relatives of the parties involved in the elopement for threatening, grievously hurting or even killing the boy and the girl involved (mostly boy).
It is not very rare to come across some grave and disturbing consequences of elopement. The outcome of elopement can sometimes be really profound. However, if the elopement is valid and lawful then the law and legal system of our country certainly ensure the best for the concerned couple.
In the cases where a boy and a girl elope for the purpose of getting married, two elements play the most important role in determining whether there is a commission of any criminal offense from the end of the boy or not. Those two elements are:
- Consent, and
- Age of the girl
There are various legal perspectives with reference to the instances where a boy and a girl elope for the purpose of marriage under varied circumstances. Further, in this article, different situations under which a boy and a girl can elope in order to get married are discussed with its legal lookout which would, in the final analysis, help us determine whether the boy involved can be charged for any criminal offense or not.
Cases where the girl is a major and elopes with her consent.
- In the instances where the boy and girl elope for the reason of getting married and both boy and girl are major (boy must be more than 21 and girl must be more than 18) and have eloped with mutual consent (where the girl has also given her valid consent), such act would not be considered as any legal offence. In such cases, the boy and the girl would be free to get married in accordance with the legal provisions of our country. No charges of rape, kidnapping or abduction can be filed against the boy in such instances.
- In accordance with the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which is the most vital Act regulating the marriage of minors, states that in order to get married lawfully the minimum age of a girl must be 18 years and the same of a boy must be 21 years. Therefore, in the instances where a boy and a girl who are major, elope for the purpose of getting married consensually, no legal action can follow against the boy as the boy as well as the girl qualify the minimum requirement set by the aforesaid Act.
- According to the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act and the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POSCO), the minimum age for giving consent of sex in India is 18 years. Therefore, no charges of rape can be framed against the boy in the cases where a boy and a girl who are major according to the law, elope with consent.
- However, as a matter of fact, it is witnessed very usually in India that whenever any act where a girl and a boy elope for the purpose of getting married takes place, regardless of the fact whether that act is a criminal offence or not, the parents or the concerned relatives of the girl go on to file the case of rape, kidnapping, and abduction against the boy. In such a case, if the elopement is not unlawful, the boy can ask for police protection or can go to the concerned High Court for seeking protection. The boy and girl can also get married under the Special Marriage Act.
- It is also advisable in such cases that as soon as the marriage takes place lawfully, the girl should go on to file a complaint against the concerned people who are willing to hurt the boy in order to ensure the safety and well being of both of them.
- As long as the consent given by the girl involved is valid and she is a major, no legal actions can be taken against the involved boy. In such a case, even if the relatives of the concerned girl file the cases of the kidnapping, rape or abduction against the boy, he would be safe.
- There is nothing one can do in order to stop someone from lodging a complaint against an act of elopement irrespective of its validity, but if the elopement is valid and lawful then it becomes much uncomplicated to deal with the complaint or the issue. Doing away with such a matter would not be difficult for the boy and the girl involved if the elopement is not against the legal provisions. The girl or the wife involved in the elopement can go on to register a report with the local police station conveying that she has eloped with the boy with her own consent and volition and no undue force or threat has been used by the boy against her in order to conclude the elopement, and she also realises that her parents or other relatives may take threatening and hurting steps against her husband. This would ensure the safety of both of them.
Cases where the girl is a major but elopes without her consent
- In the cases where a boy and a girl run away for the purpose of getting married and the girl is a major but her consent is absent, the boy involved can be charged for kidnapping, abduction and even rape.
- Consent is one of the most important elements for the determination of the fact whether any act of elopement is against law or not. If there is an absence of the consent of the girl involved in an elopement, such an act would be considered as a criminal offense and the boy involved in such an act would be punished.
- In such cases, a complaint under Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code will be filed against the boy involved in the elopement. This section has provisions against a person who kidnaps or abducts any girl in order to compel her marriage without her consent. This section clearly states that any person who kidnaps or abducts a girl with an intention of compelling her to get married without her consent would be charged and punished.
- Instances, where a boy compels a girl to run away with him for the purpose of marriage without her valid consent, would be considered as a criminal offense. Such acts are certainly unlawful.
- Charges under section 362 which provides for abduction can also be filed in such cases, at the same time charges for rape can as well be imposed on the boy involved.
- The boy involved in such a case might be entitled to an imprisonment for up to ten years along with fine as a punishment.
Cases where the girl is a minor and elopes with her consent
- Consent becomes immaterial if the elopement involves a minor girl. In the instances where a girl and a boy run away in order to get married and the girl involved is a minor, the boy would be held liable for the commission of criminal offense regardless of the consent given by the girl.
- The law says that a minor is not competent enough for giving consent. Therefore, any consent given by a girl in order to conclude an elopement would be invalid and the boy involved in such elopement could be charged for the commission of kidnapping, abduction or rape in accordance with the provisions of sections 362, 366 and 375 of the Indian Penal Code.
- The boy involved in such an elopement would be entitled to punishments as specified by the Indian Penal Code for the commission of offenses like rape, kidnapping, and abduction.
Cases where the girl is a minor and elopes without her consent
- Instances of elopement in which a minor girl elopes with a boy without her consent are very serious criminal offense. It could lead to destruct and devastate the lives of many innocent little girls. This offense also has a huge potentiality of contributing to the other serious offenses such as human trafficking and forced prostitution.
- Any boy involved in the act of making or compelling a minor girl to elope with him without her consent would be liable for punishment under the provisions against kidnapping, abduction, and rape as specified by the Indian Penal Code.
Preventive and Safety Measures
In order to tackle and confront all the actions and attempts made by the concerned relatives for threatening, harming or killing the boy or the girl involved in the elopement, following steps can be taken:
- The couple can approach the respective High Court of their state demanding protection against the actions or attempts which might be committed against them in order to hurt or kill them.
- The wife or the girl involved in the elopement can go on to file a complaint in the concerned police station confessing that she had eloped with the boy or her husband with her own will and consent and there was no force or threat used by the boy or her husband against her in order to accomplish the elopement, and she anticipates that her parents and relatives may take hurt, threaten or even kill her husband.