The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday granted protection to a married couple who claimed they were being harassed by the police after the invocation of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 (Smt. Chandni & Anr v. – State of U.P. Thru Prin. Secretary Home & Ors).
Keeping in mind the petitioners’ submissions in the matter, the Bench Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Saroj Yadav directed:
“Considering the entire aspect of the matter, it is hereby provided that till the next date of listing, the petitioners shall not be harassed by the police on the basis of the impugned F.I.R.”
The Court passed the order after taking note of the petitioners’ submission that they “have married out of their own sweet will three years back and they are living peacefully and enjoying their matrimonial life.“
The Court was further informed that they have one child, aged about a year and a half.
The petitioners submitted that they had been compelled to approach the Court because of the constant harassment by the police after the invocation of the recent Religious Conversion Ordinance.
Under challenge was a First Information Report filed against them, wherein offences under Sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code (kidnapping, abducting a woman to compel her marriage and kidnapping) were cited.
The Court has now granted the State a week’s time to obtain instructions and posted the matter for thereafter.
The recent months have seen the High Court grant protection to several couples who sought protection owing to opposition to their marriage across faiths. Days earlier, the High Court underscored that no one could interfere with the lives of two adult individuals who have decided to live together.
In December last year, the High Court had expressed that a woman who had attained the age of majority had the right to live her life on her own terms. In November, the Court said that the right to live with a person of one’s choice is intrinsic to the right to life and personal liberty irrespective of religion.
Yesterday, the Court also took note of submissions that interfaith couples tend to opt for marriage under personal laws instead of the Special Marriage Act since the latter law mandates the publication of notice of the intended marriage.
This in turn would lead to unwarranted interference by society into their marriage. Concern was also raised that the problem had become more critical after the promulgation of the Religious Conversion Ordinance. In view of the same, the Court also clarified that the publication of such notice should be read as optional and not compulsory.