Love Jihad: Karnataka legislature vs. judiciary 

As the state assembly is considering implementing law against ‘love jihad’, the court has upheld right of an adult to marry irrespective of religion


The Karnataka High Court upheld the right of an adult to marry the person of his/her choice irrespective of caste or religion. While hearing a habeas corpus petition, a bench comprising Justices S Sujatha and Sachin Shankar Magadum held that Ramya was a software engineer and was capable of taking a decision regarding her life. She submitted before the court that she wants to marry the petitioner who is her colleague and that her parents were not giving consent to her marriage and had kept her lodged at Mahila Dakshata Samithi.

The court held, “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.”

The court directed Mahila Dakshata Samithi to release Ramya and dispose of the petition.

The court’s stance clearly indicates that it has no inclination of looking beyond individual’s liberty in adulthood when it comes to matters of personal choice, such as marriage. On the other hand, Karnataka Assembly is likely to see a proposal for law against ‘love jihad’ in the next session.

The Hindu reported that BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel while addressing a Gram Swaraj convention of the party a few weeks ago said that the State government would push for a Bill to curb “love jihad” in Karnataka in the next Legislative Assembly session.

Even the state’s Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced early in November that his government would “take stern measures towards ending” what he called young girls being lured with money or love, reported NDTV. The state’s Home Minister Basvaraj Bommai is known to have said, “This love jihad has been there for some time and it is a social evil. A law is necessary – that has been the loud thinking of various sections of society in all states”.

The Indian Express reported that while the state may have been mulling over bringing about a law against love jihad, there are 41 cases pending in the state, lodged under section 366 of the Indian Penal Code to stop ‘forced’ marriages. Out of these, 35 cases are of Hindu adults while 6 cases are of interfaith couples, as per court and police records. Section 366 of IPC deals with the offence of kidnapping and coercing a woman into marriage.

Clearly, the legislature and the judiciary are at cross purposes when it comes to curbing an individual’s liberty to choose a life partner, irrespective of religion. The courts will not give any second thought to a case where two consenting adults want to marry each other while the state is contemplating a law to curb the same liberty.

In fact, in 2009, the high court had directed the CID to look into allegations of ‘love jihad’ in a case of inter-faith marriage, based on a complaint filed by the Hindu woman’s father. The CID report had found that Silja Raj married Asgar of her own volition and there is no case of ‘love jihad’. Thus making the argument stronger for people batting for individual’s liberty and freedom of choice.

The high court order may be read here:







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