Indian law and Indian society is uncomfortable with the idea of adulthood – and specially that of women. We’ve seen time and again that the law refuses to treat grown women over the age of 18 as full fledged adults capable of making their own decisions. Whether it is courts “protecting” them by forcing live in couples to marry, or charging men with rape for voluntary intercourse with a major, it looks as if we’re terrified at letting our kids grow up and take responsibility for their lives.
But a regressive judgment from the Kerala High Court is really too much. The court has pronounced that parents have the right to interfere in the love life of their adult children “in their best interests”. There was a period of time when the courts were the last bastion of sense in India. When politicians tore up the Constitution and when religious nuts were going berserk, we could always look to the courts to restore sanity and remind people of the basic principles of our democracy. Now that faith is being repeatedly shaken. First the Supreme Court refuses to pronounce Section 377 unconstitutional, and now the highest court in the state throws the concept of adulthood to the dogs.
Here’s one of the most absurd comments ever to pass the mouth of a judge:
Ours is a society which has recognised freedom to every citizen. But then, these changes that we proudly talk about, and the liberties that are guaranteed to our citizens, cannot be stretched beyond limits nor can such freedom be made weapons to destroy our fundamental values or social establishments like families, which, undoubtedly, concede authority on parents to advise and guide their children.
Where do I even start? Let’s start with the Constitution. Does it talk about “social establishments”? No. Does it talk about “fundamental social values”? Are these values defined? No. Where in the Constitution does it say that parents have the authority to “advise and guide” their adult children? Well to be fair, there’s no harm in “advice” as long as it’s just words. But in this case, the parents illegally detained their adult daughter and instead of putting the parents in jail, the court is defending them!
Wanted: Judges who have absolute loyalty only to the Constitution and the law and and don’t give a flying fuck about “society” or “social values” or whatever the hell the great protectors of India culture pull out of their asses. This judgment is illegal and there are no two ways about it. I think the Supreme Court should take suo moto cognizance of this absurd case and punish the judges involved. A judge who introduces his or her own prejudices and mindsets that go against the Constitution has no place on a bench. Especially one that is as powerful and authoritative as the High Court of a state.
The only thing that matters is the Constitution. If a law or act goes against the basic structure of the Constitution, it is illegal. End of story. Anything outside it doesn’t exist and you have no right to make up your own laws. There is no “society”, there is no “social structure”. Adulthood – which means that people are responsible for their actions – is a core value of our country. It means people can vote, they can drive, they can have their own children and yes…they can choose their own life partners. After 18, there’s nothing parents can do but sit back and accept the choices of their children.
And don’t give me the “oh, parents sacrificed so much” line. Every animal on this planet does its very best for its offspring, even to the extent of giving their lives for their young ones. I expect no less from humans. It’s not something awesome and noble. It’s normal. Children pay it back by doing the same for their kids. The favor is propagated forward, not backwards.
In the end, this is all about control. Indians are insecure with the notion of freedom, which is odd considering that we fought tooth and nail to get it. But then…it was never really about freedom. We wanted freedom from the British. But lots of people didn’t have any objections to being subjugated by our own countrymen! No wonder even our courts don’t understand what it means to be free.