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“We Don’t See Couple As Hindu-Muslim”: Allahabad HC In An Important Judgement

The Allahabad High Court has cancelled case filed against a Muslim man by the parents of his wife, who converted to Islam last year to marry him.

The Allahabad High Court has cancelled case filed against a Muslim man by the parents of his wife, who converted to Islam last year to marry him. “Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals,” the top court observed in a judgement that is considered important amid the fiery debate over “love Jihad”.

“We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat Ansari as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who – out of their own free will and choice – are living together peacefully and happily over a year. The Courts and the Constitutional Courts in particular are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the two-judge bench said.

In August last year, Salamat Ansari and Priyanka Kharwar married against her parents’ wishes. Just before the wedding, Priyanka converted to Islam and changed her name to “Alia”.

Priyanka’s parents, in the same month, filed an FIR or First Information Report against Salamat, accusing him of crimes like “kidnapping” and “abduction to compel a marriage”. The charges also included stringent POSCO act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), claiming that their daughter was a minor when she married.

The Allahabad High Court, on November 11, ruled on Salamat’s petition requesting that the FIR be cancelled. Rejecting the arguments by the UP government as well as the woman’s parents, the top court in its 14-page order, said: “The right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty.”

The judges, invoking the constitution, observed: “We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully then neither any individual nor a family nor even state can have objection to relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together. Decision of an individual who is of the age of majority, to live with an individual of his/her choice is strictly a right of an individual and when this right is infringed it would constitute breach of his/her fundamental right to life and personal liberty as it includes right to freedom of choice, to choose a partner and right to live with dignity as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Clarifying that it was not commenting on the “the validity of alleged marriage/ conversion”, the court stressed that it was cancelling the case as no offences were proved and “two grown up individuals are before us, living together for over a year of their own free will and choice.”

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