Indian social media users have welcomed a judgment by a state court in which it rejected a complaint filed by the parents of a Hindu girl who married a Muslim man.
"Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals", said the Allahabad High Court, as it rejected the charges of the girl’s parents, who had accused the man of “abduction to compel a marriage”.
The Indian court also said that choosing a partner is a “fundamental right” of Indian citizens.
"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 two-judge bench of the court was quoted as saying in Indian media reports.
Priyanka, a Hindu girl, married Salamat, a Muslim, in August last year against the wishes of her parents. Just before they tied the knot, Priyanka is said to have converted to Islam, triggering accusations of “bullying” by her parents.
On 11 November, the boy called upon the court to quash the charges levelled against him by the girl’s parents.
"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 court said in its 14-page order.
On the other side, backing the girl’s parents, an Uttar Pradesh state government lawyer argued that the marriage had “no sanctity” under Indian law since religious conversion for the express purpose of marriage is “banned.”
Agreeing with the argument that religious conversion for the sole purpose of marriage could not be allowed, the court, however, said that the current case concerned a matter of the “life and liberty” of grown-up individuals.
Uttar Pradesh is among several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-governed states in the country calling for introducing a law to regulate interfaith marriages.
Top BJP leaders, including Uttar Pradesh state chief Yogi Adityanath, have in the past alleged that Muslim men have been “tricking” Hindu girls into marriage to effect a “demographic change”.
One of India’s most populous states with a large Muslim population, Uttar Pradesh is reportedly close to tabling a law that would punish men for “forcibly” converting women under the pretext of marriage. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, as well as Haryana, among other BJP-governed states, are also said to be thinking along these lines.
Netizens Laud Judges for Showing 'Spine'
The Allahabad High Court’s order quashing the charges against the Muslim man have been termed as a “setback” for the BJP by a section of social media users, who also applauded the judges for taking a stand on the contentious issue.
Allahabad High Court rocks...some judges still have spine!!!👏👏 https://t.co/uH0SFIrOlX— Saurabh Yadav (@arsaurabhyadav) November 24, 2020