The Allahabad High Court passed an order upholding an adult’s right to choose to live with her husband and reunited an interfaith couple after a lower court’s order led to their separation. The court observed after interacting with the woman (Shikha) that she “expressed that she wants to live with her husband (Salman @Karan) she is free to move as per her own choice without any restriction or hindrance being created by third party.”
A two-judge bench comprising Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the husband, Salman as his wife was sent to her parents’ home by the Child Welfare Committee, against her wishes. The Magistrate court had held the woman to be a minor and hence the court handed her over to the custody of CWC which in turn handed her over to her parents. The court held that this was done without any application of mind and against her wish.
The court was also presented with a certificate from her school headmaster, whereby, as per her date of birth, she has already attained majority. The court held that the acts of Magistrate, Etah and the CWC reflects lack of appreciation of legal provisions. the court observed that the corpus (woman) has attained the age of majority and she has a choice to live her life on her own terms.
The court allowed the petition and directed the investigating officer to ensure that appropriate protection is granted to the corpus and her husband till they return to their residence while also directing SSP, Prayagraj to provide necessary police security for safe passage of the couple.
Even Karnataka High Court held in its judgment upheld the right of an adult to marry the person of his/her choice irrespective of caste or religion while observing “It is well settled that a right of any major individual to marry the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India and the said liberty relating to the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion.”
Calcutta High Court (in Palash Sarkar vs. State of West Bengal) held that it cannot intervene if an adult marries as per her choice and decides to convert and not return to her paternal house.
Ironically, the UP Police has made 35 arrests under the one-month old Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance that defines unlawful conversions and deems conversion done solely for marriage as illegal and punishable.
The Allahabad High Court order may be read here.