Kidnapping and Abduction – Varadarajan V State of Madras

Kidnapping and Abduction – Varadarajan V State of Madras (1965 AIR 942, 1965 SCR (1) 243)

Introduction

Kidnapping has been defined under section 359 of IPC. In this section kidnapping consist of two kinds i.e.

  • Kidnapping from India
  • Kidnapping from lawful guardianship

Section 361 of IPC gives protection to minors and person of unsound mind from kidnapping. Minors are considered incapable while taking decisions and therefore they required to be mentored by their lawful guardians. The landmark judgment in kidnapping from a lawful guardianship has been laid down in S. Varadarajan v. State of Madras.

Case facts

In 1960, S.Natarajan was living in Nungambakkam with his wife and two daughters. The two daughters namely, Rama the oldest daughter and savitri the youngest daughter. Both the daughters were in college, the oldest was in a Madras medical college and savitri was a second year student doing B.sc from Class at Ethiraj College. The accused S.Varadarajan who was the neighbor of S.Natarajan and become friendly with the youngest daughter of S. Natarajan, savitri. They both used to talk from their houses and many a time the oldest daughter Rama has seen them together. One morning on 30th September 1960 Rama seen both her sister and varadarajan taking at 9 a.m. On seeing this site Rama questioned savitri about her behavior and her intention. Savitri agreed that she wanted to marry Varadarajan. On the same day Rama witnessed this situation to her father S. Natarajan and the intention of savitri. Then S. Natarajan knowing all the things asked savitri about it but savitri didn’t said a word so the father took savitri to his relative house k. Natarajan so that she can stay away from S. Varadarajan.

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On 1st October savitri left the home of K. Natarajan without letting know anybody and called S. Varadarajan to meet her at a certain place and from there they both went Mylapore, the house of sami in Varadarjan car and intended to take sami with them as witness in marriage registrar’s office. Later on, they moved towards the registrar’s office. In office, formalities related to the marriage were performed and Varadarajan and Savitri entered into the agreement of marriage which was duly registered.

In the evening on the same day they family got to know that savitri has been missing. S.Natarajan and K.Natarajan filed a complaint in Nangumbakkam police station about her missing of her minor daughter.

After completion of their marriage documentation they both went to Ajanta hotel and spend their whole day. On next day varadarajan brought some sarees and blouses and they spend some days in sattur. On 4th October they moved towards o Sirukulam where they stayed for 10 or 12 days. Thereafter they went to Coimbatore and then Tanjore. Finally, police caught them in Tanjore acting on the complaint filed by S. Natarajan.

Madras high court sentenced one year rigorous punishment to Varadarajan guilty for kidnapping.

Then Varadarajan appealed by special leave. The matter went to Supreme Court after appealed against the judgment given by the Madras High Court. The Supreme Court acquitted the appellant (Varadarajan) from the sentence passed by High Court of Madras.

Issue before the Court

  • Whether a minor can abandon the Guardianship of his or her guardian?
  • Whether taking out of lawful Guardianship has been established or not?

Supreme Court observation

In the following case:

  • Savitri left her relatives house willingly, then calling Varadarajan to meet her at a certain place.
  • Savitri was the one who proposed first for the marriage which clearly shows it was the will and desire of Savitri and under no influence.
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It clearly states that the appellant did not force nor influenced Savitri for any of the acts.

Supreme Court observed that Savitri was a second year b.sc college student she was well matured for taking her life decision though Savitri did not attained the age of majority but she was at the verge of attainting majority and she was living her whole life in the city. So she was capable for taking her decision.

Section 361 of I.P.C. defines kidnapping from lawful guardianship and the key ingredient in this section is ‘taking’ or ‘enticing’.

All the ingredients must be fulfilled to convict a person guilty for kidnapping and abduction according to section 361 of I.P.C.

No offence under section 361 IPC can be established as the appellant did not take nor entice Savitri for any of her acts.

Decision of the Court

Supreme Court held that no offence can be charged under section 361 IPC against the Appellant. So Varadarajan was acquitted and the sentenced and conviction passed upon him by Madras High Court was set aside.

Case analysis

This case has led to several questions regarding ;age of majority’, what does ‘taking’ or ‘enticing’ means, what is ‘age of discretion’ and lastly when can an offence will amount to kidnapping from lawful guardianship.

The Supreme Court in this case has protected the right of the appellant as no offence was established under section 361 of IPC.

The appellant was not guilty of kidnapping as in section 361 IPC the word ‘taking’ or ‘enticing’ was missing in this following case. The appellant did not ‘entice’ Savitri which is clearly derived by the statement Savitri confessed. The word ‘taking’ means doing an act by which the other person got influenced or induced.

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In this following case, Varadarajan neither influenced nor induced Savitri to leave her house or for marriage. The ‘age of discretion’ here is an essential ingredient as Savitri was on the verge of attaining majority so she was fully grown mentally to decide for herself.

To make an offence of kidnapping it should include ‘influence, inducement, enticement, and an active participation to change the mind-set of the minor to leave her house. But all the ingredients were missing in this S.Varadarajan v. Sate of Madras.

Conclusion

Outlining the objective of section 361 of the Indian penal code, 1860, Gajendragadkar, J. rightly recapitulates “It may be that the mischief intended to be punished partly consists in the violation of the infringement of the guardians’ right to keep their wards under their care and custody, but the more important object of these provisions undoubtedly is to afford security and protection to the wards themselves.”] In the case of S. Varadarajan v. State of Madras, the girl had attained the (age of discretion) and there was no evidence or fact to prove that Varadarajan enticed her by anyway, so he cannot be liable for committing the offence of kidnapping. This judgement has left indelible impact on the issues related with kidnapping. Such interpretation of the section reveals the true intent of the legislature.

Author: Sweksha Beniwal,
vivekananda institute of professional studies 2nd year BA LLB

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