Madhya Pradesh High Court: Writ for Habeas Corpus Cannot Be Filed in Civil Disputes

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A writ petition in the nature of habeas corpus is filed before the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The petitioner claims that his wife is in the illegal confinement of her parents. He requests the Court to direct his wife to appear and make a statement. However, after analysing the circumstances, Madhya Pradesh HC dismisses the petition.

Brief Facts of the Case

A petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution has been filed before the Gwalior Bench of the MP High Court. The main allegation put forth by the petitioner is that his wife is in the illegal custody of her parents (Respondents 4 to 13). The petitioner, thus, requests that his wife be directed to appear and make a statement before the Court.

Arguments Before the Court

The petitioner submits that he got married on 18 April 2018. In January 2019 his wife moved into her parental home and informed the petitioner that she didn’t wish to return. This led the petitioner to file an application for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The petitioner’s wife continued to deny returning to her matrimonial home following which the petitioner withdrew the application.

The petitioner, then, filed another application for grant of divorce by mutual consent under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act. Despite the aforesaid, the petitioner’s wife has failed to appear before the Court.

The counsel for petitioner contends that a close relative has informed the petitioner that his wife wants to return. But, the parents of his wife have kept her in illegal confinement. The informant fears that his relations with the wife’s parents might turn sour. Citing this as a reason, the petitioner has refused to disclose the name of the informant. The petitioner finally requests the Court to direct his wife to appear and make a statement before the Court.

Court’s Observations

The Court observes that the petitioner had filed an application under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. But, he withdrew the same for reasons unknown by the Court. The Court points out that the petitioner withdrew an “efficacious remedy” that was available to him. The petitioner’s wife has been living with her parents for more than one year. The Court, thus, observes that it cannot be said that the petitioner’s wife is in illegal confinement.

Court’s Decision

At the outset, the Court states that a writ petition in the nature of habeas corpus must only be filed where a person is in illegal confinement/custody. The Court observes and lays down that filing such an application in a civil dispute “is a clear misuse of lawful authority.”

The Court expresses that the petitioner has prima facie failed to satisfy the Court that his wife is in illegal confinement/custody of her parents. Thus, the Court dismisses the present petition.


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