Choice of partners by adults is a fundamental right, Allahabad HC quashes FIR against interfaith couple

Allahabad HC said that the right to live with a person of one's choice was intrinsic to the right to life guarenteed under Article 21
Last Updated 24 November 2020, 13:36 IST

Amid debates over 'love jihad' and rising clamour for a stringent law to deal with it, the Allahabad High Court quashed an FIR against an interfaith couple saying the right to life with a person of one's choice intrinsic to the right to life and personal liberty. These rights are guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

A division bench comprising Justice Vivek Agarwal and Justice Pankaj Naqvi, in its 14-page order, said that ''interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right of freedom of choice of the two individuals.

The court's judgement, which was delivered around a few days back, came on a writ petition filed by Salamat Ali Ansari and Priyanka Kharwar alias Alia, who had invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court seeking quashing of an FIR lodged by Priyanka's parents charging Ansari with kidnapping and abduction to compel her to marry him.

Priyanka and Ansari, both residents of Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district, about 350 kilometre from Lucknow, had married last year, later she had converted to Islam.

''We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who, out of their own free will and choice, are living together peacefully and happily over a year...the courts and the Constitutional Courts in particular, are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,'' the bench said.

''We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully then neither any individual nor a family nor even State can have objection to relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together,'' it said.

The court, citing previous decisions in this regard, said that once a person becomes a major (above 18 years of age) he or she could marry whosoever he/she liked.

''If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut-off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage,'' it said.

The court ordered quashing of the FIR on the ground that no offence was committed out as also the fact that two grown-up individuals were before us, living together for over a year of their own free will and choice.

(Published 24 November 2020, 13:01 IST)

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