No moral policing allowed when two adults decide to stay together : Madhya Pradesh High Court

Moral policing cannot be allowed in a case where married major couples were forcibly separated by parents was considered by the bench of High Court of Madhya Pradesh consisting of JUSTICE NANDITA DUBEY in the matters between Guljar Khan v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Others (WP No. 1714 of 2022).

Brief facts of the case are the plaintiff-husband married his wife with her consent after voluntarily choosing Islam. State’s alleged that the marriage violated the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom (MPFR) Act 2021 and therefore the woman should be sent to Nari Niketan. Presently, Guljar Khan, moved a Habeas Corpus petition to the court seeking orders for release of his wife, who was forcibly taken to Banaras by her parents and detained there illegally.

The counsel for petitioner contended that the woman had voluntarily married the petitioner and had never been forced to convert and that whatever she did was according to her wishes. His family and grandparents forcibly took him to Banaras, where he was beaten and repeatedly threatened with statements against her husband and  she wanted to go with him as she had married her husband willingly.

The counsel for respondent objected that their marriage would be considered null and void as the marriage took place in violation of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom (MPFR) Act 2021, as per section 3 of which, no one may convert for the purpose of marriage and any conversion contrary to this provision will be deemed null and void, so the petitioner’s marriage must be declared null and void.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court held that the Constitution gives every adult citizen of this country the right to live his life as he wishes. No moral policing can be done in matters where two great individuals are willing to stay together. whether by marriage or in an ongoing relationship, the party to this arrangement does so willingly and without coercion. The court found that both the applicant and her husband were older, and that the age of the woman in the case was not disputed by either party. Therefore, the court ordered the relevant authorities to hand over his wife to the plaintiff and ensure that the plaintiff-husband and wife reached their home safely and instructed the police to make sure they are not threatened by the spouse’s parents.

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by – Bhaswati Goldar

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