Sheena Choudhary case: Delhi HC slams Rajasthan Police for ‘completely unjustified’ behaviour

Rajasthan cops have a lot to answer for how they treated a 26-year-old educated woman, forcibly taking her into ‘custody’ because she did not want to get married according to her parents will

Rajasthan Police

“She was forced into a car violently by a male officer of the Rajasthan Police, who was not in uniform. Her mobile phone was taken away… Her statement was nor recorded… She states that one hour before she and the police party reached Dholpur, Rajasthan, they stopped for dinner at a roadside restaurant and the police party also consumed liquor,” are not words extracted from a script of the latest cop drama web series. This is what the Delhi High court observed in the case of 26-year-old Sheena Choudhary, who was forcibly detained from Delhi by the Dholpur district police on November 24, 2020. The police were allegedly acting at the behest of Choudhary’s parents who were trying to marry her off against her wishes.

Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD) founder Shabnam Hashmi, who was in contact with Choudhary since November 20, had said the police as well as the woman’s uncle manhandled and treated her like an accused. “Choudhary was with eight young girls and boys from ANHAD at an eatery near the office. As they stepped out, Rajasthan policemen pounced at her. I was told they have taken her to Jamia Nagar police station. When I reached, she wasn’t there. I met the SHO who told the Rajasthan police that they have to first bring her to the police station, but they did not listen,” said Hashmi. 

Sheena Choudhary, was working in Dholpur as a Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow placed by the IIM Bangalore as part of the National Skill Mission. A graduate of Miranda House College and Delhi School of Social Work, Choudhary had no plans of marriage and wanted to pursue higher studies and a career.

She told the Court that her phone was not returned to her despite her repeated demands and that even the Delhi Police did not record her statement. The court observed that “All these allegations, if true, raise very serious issues with regard to the working of the police force and certainly call for investigation and appropriate action.” 

The Delhi High Court on Thursday called the Rajasthan Police’s action of forcibly taking away a 26-year-old woman  as “completely unjustified”. According to news reports a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said, “It was not open for the male force to forcibly push Sheena into a car. We have already noticed that she was not an accused and was stated to be a victim of the offence in the FIR registered by father and uncle of Sheena.”

Sheena was brought back to Delhi and produced before the court via video conferencing, and narrated how she left her home after her family pressured her to get married, and how the Rajasthan Police forcibly took her to Dhaulpur to record her statement before a magistrate. The court was hearing a petition filed by the woman, through her pairokar (friend), seeking her own production and safety, stated news reports.

She told the court that her “mobile phone was snatched by the officials” and while on their way to Dhaulpur, they stopped the vehicle for dinner at a roadside restaurant where the “police officials consumed liquor.” The bench took cognisance of the allegations saying it raises “serious issues with regard to working of the police force and call for an investigation” and directed the “ State of Rajasthan to look into the aforesaid aspects and an inquiry be made and take appropriate action accordingly.” 

The bench was also critical of the fact that the woman was driven all the way to Rajasthan for recording of her statement before a magistrate which could have been done before a court in Delhi, “we find that the action taken by the Rajasthan Police to forcibly take away the woman to Rajasthan with them despite her saying that she was at the office of ANHAD (NGO) was completely unjustified.” The court added that incident has left both the woman and her family members in a state of shock.

The woman had told the court that she was taken away from Delhi by the Rajasthan Police on Tuesday while she was having lunch in Jamia Nagar with her friends. On seeing the police party, she started running and screaming for help, however, she was forcibly caught by the officials and pushed into their vehicle. Her father reportedly filed a police complaint in Dholpur, Rajasthan, which is also her place of work for the alleged offences of “kidnapping, abduction to compel for marriage and wrongful confinement.” It was in pursuance of that FIR, that Rajasthan Police came to Delhi and picked her up.

Meanwhile, the woman’s father Satinder Kumar told the court that their entire family was highly educated and “encouraged their children to go for higher studies”. He said his daughter had “not conveyed to him properly that she wanted to study further and did not want to marry at this stage.” He has assured the court that the family will not pressurise her to get married and urged the bench to make his daughter understand to come home.

However, Sheena said marriage was not in her priority list and that she was under family pressure to get married and was feeling threatened and scared due to which she had to run away. But, she clarified that she does not want any action against her family and was only concerned about her own safety.

The bench after interacting with the woman, and her father and uncle noted, “It appeared to us that the desire expressed by the woman that she does not want to get married to anyone at this stage and this did not register to the minds of parents and relatives who were keen to get her married” adding that “the incident has sent a clear message that the woman does not want to get married at this stage,” the matter is listed for further hearing on December 5.

The court directed the Delhi Police to drop her to the residence of activist Shabnam Hashmi, the pairokar who has filed the petition on her behalf, and told the family not to contact Sheen, who will call them if and when she wishes to. The court asked the Station House Officer (SHO) of Jamia Nagar police station to also counsel Sheena’s father about this order and its compliance.

Sheena had earlier sought legal help from the Delhi State Women’s Commission’s Chairperson Swati Maliwal on November 23, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Parliament police station on November 21 along with National Federation of Indian Women’s General Secretary Annie Raja. She made the requests to officials to ensure her safety via:

1.       A restraining order to prevent family from forcibly accosting her or contacting her

2.       A protection order to prevent physical harm

3.       A direction to local police to inform Choudhary parents not to contact her while she stayed in a place of her own choosing.

4.       A transfer to Jaipur along with security so that the woman will feel more secure.

“My family is denying my right to make my own decisions with regard to my future. They want to perform my marriage without my consent and without any say in choice of my future husband. I have known my family to be conservative in such matters. They agree with some very regressive views and attitudes that people in the community have about women,” Choudhary had said, adding instances of physical violence against girls for disobeying orders were not uncommon in her family.


Rajasthan police allegedly abduct woman who defied her parents’ dictat on marriage

Girls and young women continue to get hunted in UP, Rajasthan

Bid Curb Inter-faith marriages: Ruse to Restrict Women’s Freedom




Related Articles