Allahabad High Court dismissed a writ petition by an interfaith married couple where they alleged their family’s interference in their life. In Priyanshi @ Km Shamreen and Another Vs State of U.P. & Others, the first Petitioner is Muslim by birth and she has converted her religion from Muslim to Hindu on 29.06.2020. The petitioners have solemnized their marriage according to Hindu rites and rituals on 31.07.2020. By means of the instant writ petition, the petitioners have prayed for a direction upon the respondents not to interfere with their peaceful married life by adopting coercive measures.
The Court has perused the record and found that the girl has converted her religion on 29.06.2020 and just after one month have solemnised marriage with the boy on 31.07.2020. By this, Court evaluated that this act of conversion has taken place only for the purpose of marriage and refused to help the couple. To substantiate this order, Hon’ble High Court referred another judgement of Smt. Noor Jahan Begum @ Anjali Mishra & Anr. V. State of U.P. & Ors. Along with connected cases decided on 16.12.2014 while observing that conversion just for the purpose of marriage is unacceptable. However unlike this case, in the said judgment of 2014; conversion of the girl took place and she got converted from Muslim to Hindu. The relevant para from the judgement of 2014 has been quoted in this order is as follows:
“Applying the above noted principles as laid down in various judgments and Mandate of The Holy QURAN in Sura II Ayat 221, I find that alleged conversion Of petitioner No.1, girl in each of the writ petitions cannot be said to be bonafide Or valid. The religion of petitioner No.1 in each of the writ petitions was converted. At the instance of the petitioner No.2 (boys) to marry with the girl. The petitioner girls have stated that they do not know about Islam. In the writ petition as well as in the statements on oath made before this Court, the petitioner girls have not stated that they have any real faith and belief in the unity of God and Mohamed to be Prophet. They all stated that the boy got their religion converted with sole purpose to marry with her. Thus conversion of religion to Islam, in the present set of facts, of the girls without their faith and belief in Islam and at the instance of the boys, solely for the purpose of marriage, cannot be said to be a valid conversion to Islam religion. These marriages (Nikah) are against the mandate in Sura II Ayat 221 of the Holy Quran.”
High Court also referred to landmark judgement of Lily Thomas(supra) of Supreme Court in deciding this case. In the case of Lily Thomas (supra) Hon’ble Supreme Court observed in paragraph Nos. 7,8 and 40 that,
“conversion of religion of a non-muslim without any real change of belief in Islam and only for marriage is void.”
Now the problem is both the judgements above has been about the conversion of a girl from non-Muslim to Muslim whereas the instance case is about a Muslim conversion to a Hindu(non-Muslim). This may seem like a small difference however it is not. To get converted into Islam and become a Muslim, there are certain non-negotiable principles which are bound to be followed including the belief in supremacy of Allah, Unity of God and Mohamed to be Prophet. Absence of such beliefs and principles will not make one a proper Muslim, thus making the marriage void in these two judgements by the court. However, in the instant case, a Muslim by birth got converted to Hinduism. To be a Hindu requires no fixed principle to be followed, unlike Islam. Anyone can be a Hindu and may follow any path whatsoever. As per the official explanation of sub-clause (b) of clause (2) of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion. According to section 2 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, a Hindu is someone who adhere to any forms or developments of Hinduism including Virashaivas, Lingayats, Brahmo Samaj followers, and adherents of Prarthana and Arya Samaj. It further covers people having faith in Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, or any other religion as Hindus and exempts only Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. These two legal references are enough to prove the point that a Hindu doesn’t have to follow any particular book, god, faith, principle etc to be a Hindu in India and thus the principle applied in Smt. Noor Jahan Begum @ Anjali Mishra & Anr. V. State of U.P. & Ors. And Lily Thomas (supra) shall not be applicable in this case of Priyanshi.
According to me, the judgement of High Court is not correct and must be challenged on the very ground that Islam and Hinduism can’t be put in same bracket and that principles of both the faiths are different not only in their respective scriptures and customs but are also different in the eye of law. Couple must be given security by the state and law of land must protect the interest of this interfaith couple.
Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com