Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Narayan Singh of the Uttarakhand High Court (Nainital Bench) has issued directions to the Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate, Haridwar to provide protection to two adults in a case of conversion from the petitioner’s family and also conduct a detailed enquiry in the matter.
The petitioner converted to Muslim faith on December 20, 2020 and married a Muslim man (the other petitioner) the next day. However, the couple failed to give prior information of conversion or marriage to the concerned District Magistrate, nor the person who had performed such conversion gave one month’s advance notice to the District Magistrate, violating section 8 (2) of the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.
As the couple was allegedly facing harassment and opposition from their family members, they sought police protection from the High Court since they anticipated physical harm from them. The court recognised this apprehension and granted protection but did not let the couple go easy for violating the provisions of the Act.
It said, “purely in the interest of justice and considering the fact that the petitioners have a reasonable apprehension to their life and liberty at the hands of private respondent nos. 3 to 6 (father, brother and neighbour of the woman petitioner), we direct the Senior Superintendent of Police, Haridwar to grant the petitioners full protection forthwith. After granting the said protection, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Haridwar shall also file an immediate report before this Court within twenty-four hours thereafter.”
It added, “We also direct the District Magistrate, Haridwar to conduct a detailed inquiry into this matter, as many similar cases are repeatedly coming before us. Our intention is to inform the concerned persons about the illegalities and the legal implications in the matter, so that a prior information is given to the concerned District Magistrate, which is the mandate of law. In all similar cases, which are coming before us, we find that such intimation is not given under sub-section (2) of Section 8 of the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 by the concerned Priest.”
Finally, the court concluded by directing the District Magistrate, Haridwar to conduct an inquiry in all the aspects and listed the matter for consideration on March 19, 2021.
The order may be read here: