DAYS after the Supreme Court ordered that an adult couple has the right to live together even if they have not attained the age of marriage, neither Nandakumar, on whose petition the court gave the ruling, nor his friend Thushara, with whom he had eloped and ostensibly got married and saw it being nullified by High Court, are in a hurry to start living together, now that their parents have agreed to their wedding plan.
Nandakumar, who turns 21 — the marriageable age for men — on May 30, said on Tuesday, “Both our families have agreed to the marriage. Neither I nor Thushara is in hurry for a live-in. After I turn 21, we will decide on registering the marriage.”
Thushara, also 20, said she is not looking at living in with a man who is yet to attain marriageable age. “I am waiting for Nandakumar to turn 21. I had eloped with him last year under a particular situation – there was no other option,” she said. “But now both families have agreed to our decision to live together, so why should I get (overtly) excited over the court verdict? Our marriage is now fixed.”
Thushara, eldest daughter of Binukumar, a driver, comes from Vetikonam in Thiruvananthapuram.
Nandakumar, from Manikandeswaram on the outskirts of the state capital, had moved the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court annulled their marriage on the ground that he was not of marriageable age.
But the top court said that live-in relationships are now ratified even by the legislature, and such relations have found a place under the provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The couple’s life got into a legal tangle in April 2017, when Thushara, a first-year student of BSc nursing, eloped with Nandakumar.
Thushara’s father Binukumar said, “Soon after she went missing, I moved a complaint with local police. A few days later, my daughter was presented before magistrate court in Nedumangad (in Thiruvananthapuram) with Nandakumar. Their lawyer said he has attained 21, and the court left my daughter along with him.”
But, Binukumar said, he had doubts about Nandakumar’s age, and moved a habeaus corpus in High Court on April 25 last year. The couple was produced before the court, where they claimed that their marriage was solemnised on April 12, 2017, at a temple. They produced photographs to substantiate their claim.
Observing that Nandakumar will turn 21 years on May 30, 2018, the HC division bench of Justices P N Raveendran and P V Asha said, “Such being the situation, it cannot be said that the petitioner’s daughter is the lawfully wedded wife of Nandakumar. Apart from the photographs and the statement made before us, there is no evidence to show that a valid marriage was solemnised between the parties.”
The court ruled that Nandakumar “cannot stand in the way of the petitioner, Binukumar, having custody of his daughter”.
While the court handed over Thushara’s custody to her father, the woman went missing a month later. This time, she moved in with a common friend.
Binukumar moved the HC with another habeas corpus petition. With the HC again directing that Thushara’s custody be handed over to her father, Nandakumar appealed before the Supreme Court. As the petition was pending before Supreme Court, the two families agreed that the children will get married once Nandakumar turns 21.
“After the HC verdict, Thushara has been with me. She has not met him. She also skipped the nursing course. I am a driver and earn little. I spent nearly Rs 1 lakh in legal battles and I am exhausted now. Let them live together, but it should not be a live-in relationship, which has lot of pitfalls,” Binukumar said.