Jabalpur: Madhya Pradesh High Court says no moral policing allowed if converted willingly

Jabalpur: Madhya Pradesh High Court says no moral policing allowed if converted willingly

Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh): The Madhya Pradesh high court has said that no moral policing would be allowed if two adults have decided to live together of their own will, either by tying knot or moved in a live-in relationship.

The decision has come in response to a habeas corpus petition which was filed by Guljar Ahmed. Ahmed had married a Hindu girl, Arti Sahu, who converted to Islam but her parents took her away from Guljar.

During the hearing, the bench of Justice Nandita Dubey has rejected the argument of the counsel for the MP government that under the provisions of Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, conversion for the sake of marriage was illegal; and marriage so performed is legally null and void. The girl should be sent to Nari Niketan for ‘rehabilitation’.

Justice Nandita Dubey has directed the police to hand the woman back to the petitioner, as she wished. Justice also said to ensure that they should reach their home safely and were not threatened thereafter by her parents.

The petition read that Guljar and Arti had married in Maharashtra and she had willingly converted to Islam. Later, her parents had taken her away by force and had illegally detained her.

On the orders of the judge, Arti (19) was produced in court through video conferencing. She told the court that she had willingly married Khan and converted to Islam. She further said that her parents and grandparents had forcibly taken her away to Banaras, where she was beaten up and threatened constantly to give a statement against her husband.

The judge noted that the government counsel had vehemently argued that any marriage performed in contravention to section 3 of the Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, shall be deemed null and void. The government counsel said that the Act provides that no person shall convert for the purpose of marriage and any conversion in contravention of this shall be deemed null and void.

Nonetheless, the court said that the petitioner and his wife were adults. “Be that as it may, the petitioner and the corpus (woman) are major. No moral policing can be allowed in such matters where two major persons are willing to stay together whether by way of marriage or in a live-in relationship, when the party to that arrangement is doing it willingly and not forced into it,” Justice Dubey said.

“The corpus before this court has clearly stated that she has married the petitioner and wants to stay with him. She is a major and her age is not disputed by any of the parties. The Constitution gives the right to every major citizen of this country to live her or his life as per her or his own wishes. Under the circumstances, the objection raised by the counsel for the state and her prayer to send the corpus to Nari Niketan is rejected,” the judge said in the order.

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