Interfaith marriages are a beautiful inculcation of two different religions. It also is a great way of communal harmony. But not everyone sees it that way. Some see it as an attack on their already delicate religious sentiments. Irrespective of personal consent.
In times like these, a recent verdict from the Allahabad High court brings with it a new ray of hope.
The case in point is that of a man named Salamat Ansari and his wife Priyanka Kharwar. They both married each other and Priyanka converted to Islam after marriage. She did so with her own choice and consent. Priyanka and Salamat are two legally adult partners.
Now the girls parents have accused the man of forcefully coercing their daughter into changing her religion. Priyanka’s parents filed an FIR against Salamat, accusing him of crimes like “kidnapping” and “abduction to compel a marriage”. They included the stringent POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), claiming that their daughter was a minor when she married.
They accused him of Love Jihad. Love Jihad is a derogatory word for such type of interfaith marriages. This word is not recognised by the constitution.
The High Court Verdict
Allahabad High Court though was having none of it. “Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals,” the court observed in a verdict that is significant in the middle of a 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,” said a two-judge bench.
The two judge bench consisted of Judges Vivek Agarwal and Pankaj Naqvi.
On 11th of November the Allahabad High Court ruled in favour of Salamat’s petition requesting that the FIR be cancelled.
“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 High Court said in the 14-page order, rejecting arguments by the UP government as well as the woman’s parents.
This Judgement is of importance as the topic of love jihad is getting increasingly aggressive. This topic seems to be Bhartiya Janta Parties new agenda and many BJP ruled states are in talks over making a law of this alleged problem.