Courts must not abridge freedom, says Supreme Court

Courts must not abridge freedom, says Supreme Court

Freedom of choice and faith is an indispensable part of individual entity and it is the duty of the court not to abridge it without a valid authority of law, the Supreme Court has said.

"The choice of a partner whether within or outside marriage lies within the exclusive domain of each individual. Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable. The absolute right of an individual to choose a life partner is not in the least affected by matters of faith," the top court said.

The apex court said it was impermissible to deprive one of that freedom on the plea of faith.

Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity, it said.

"The social values and morals have their space but they are not above the constitutionally guaranteed freedom. The said freedom is both a constitutional and a human right," a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar said.

The top court released its detailed 61-page judgement overturning the Kerala High Court's order of May 24, 2017, that had nullified the marriage of 25-year-old Hindu girl Akhila alias Hadiya with a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan.

The court had March 8 restored their marriage and said its reasoned judgement would be released subsequently.

The judgement, authored by the CJI, rejected Akhila's father Asokan K M's plea against the marriage.

Justice D Y Chandrachud, in his separate and concurring verdict, said, "The high court has transgressed the limits on its jurisdiction in a habeas corpus petition. In the process, there has been a serious transgression of constitutional rights."

In deciding whether Shafin Jahan is a fit person for Hadiya to marry, the high court has entered into a prohibited terrain, he said.

"Our choices are respected because they are ours. Social approval for intimate personal decisions is not the basis for recognising them. Indeed, the Constitution protects personal liberty from disapproving audiences," Justice Chandrachud said.

The court said the NIA may carry out its investigation into the matter but it will not go into the validity of the marriage.

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