The High Court of Madhya Pradesh supported the constitutional right of significant individuals to be together, whether via marriage or a live-in relationship, in Guljar Khan v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh And Others (WP No. 1714 of 2022), a case involving a Habeas Corpus petition.
Brief Facts Of The Case: In essence, Justice Nandita Dubey was dealing with a case filed by a spouse who claimed that his wife’s parents had unjustly taken her and routed her to Banaras by force. The Petitioner claimed that his wife freely converted to Islam and that he married her with her permission.
Through video conference, the wife (corpus) disclosed to the court that she is 19 years old, that she freely wed the Petitioner, and that she recently converted to Islam. She stated categorically that she had never been coerced into becoming a Christian and that all she had done was at her own decision.
She said that she had been transported to Banaras against her will by her parents and grandparents, where she had been mistreated and was frequently threatened with giving testimony against the petitioner. She begged the Court to let her accompany the Petitioner because she had happily wed him.
According to the guidelines established by the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, the state’s legal representative said that the marriage was null and invalid. According to the argument, Section 3 of the Act prohibits conversion for marriage-related purposes, and any conversion that occurs in violation of this rule would be regarded as void. As a result, interpreting Section 3 and Section 6 together makes the marriage in question invalid.
Judgement: Rejecting the state’s argument, the court noted that since both the petitioner and the corpus are majors, moral policing is not appropriate in situations where the two major parties are willing to remain together, whether through marriage or a live-in relationship, as long as they are doing so voluntarily and not under duress.
The court additionally emphasised that the evidence before it made it obvious that she had wed the petitioner and desired to remain with him. No one disputes her age, even the parties, that she is a major, thus every significant citizen of our country has the right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to live their lives as they see fit. Further, the objection raised by the counsel for the State and her prayer to send the corpus to Nari Niketan was rejected.
The Court directed the state and police authorities to handover the corpus to the Petitioner and to see that the couple reaches their residence safely. The police authorities were further directed to ensure that even in future, the couple is not threatened by the parents of the corpus.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRAKIRTI JENA