THE RAJASTHAN High Court on Wednesday directed the police to register an FIR and investigate a 22-year-old woman’s alleged forcible conversion to Islam and marriage “to ascertain the correctness of the facts”. The bench of Justices Gopal Krishan Vyas and Manoj Kumar Garg was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the woman’s brother, who alleged that it was a case of “love jihad”.
According to a PTI report, the bench expressed anger over the “negligence” of the police, which allegedly refused to file an FIR on her family’s complaint. The court asked how the police could assume that the woman’s conversion was legal, “just by way of an affidavit over a stamp paper of Rs 10”. “By this way, tomorrow, even I could address myself as Gopal Mohammad,” the court was quoted as saying.
“Prima facie, we are of the opinion the investigation is to be made by SHO to ascertain the correctness of the fact of conversion of the religion as well as of the ‘nikahnama’ which is said to be solemnised on 14.04.2017, because the sister of the petitioner was residing with the family of the petitioner who belongs to Hindu religion till 25.10.2017, then how conversion of religion from one community to another community was made in the month of April 2017,” the court observed.
The court also directed the state government to file a reply clarifying the legal provisions pertaining to religious conversion in the state. It sent the woman, a resident of Jodhpur, to Nari Niketan for a week, and directed that “no person of either party” shall be allowed to meet her. In his petition, the woman’s brother alleged that “on October 25, all of a sudden, she left the house”. He said he went to the Pratap Nagar police station in Jodhpur, but was informed by the SHO that his sister had sent an application to Commissioner of Police, Jodhpur Metro, “in which it is stated that after conversion of religion, her marriage has been solemnised with Faiz Modi as per Muslim customs”. He alleged that the police “refused to register an FIR”.
While the nikahnama was dated April 14, the woman’s brother said that she was living with them till October 25. “Our argument was how could there be religious conversion when there’s no such law in Rajasthan,” Gokulesh Bohra, counsel for the petitioner, told The Indian Express. “We questioned if an affidavit itself is enough to legalise conversion. Second, if she had converted to another religion several months ago, how come she was living under her old name at her home,” said Bohra, claiming that there was a pattern of similar cases in Jodhpur. The petitioner claimed that the marriage was solemnised “under threat.”
SHO Achal Singh said an FIR was lodged on Monday on the court’s direction, against Faiz Modi under Sections 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 384 (extortion) of the IPC. “In the police complaint, the family has said that the woman told them that she was being blackmailed by the man,” said Bohra.
The woman was produced before the court on Wednesday. “We have ascertained from the corpus whether she is under threat or inducement by anyone, she refused and said that she is present in the court as per her will,” the court recorded. It asked the state government to file a reply in four days on “whether without any procedure or rule, conversion of religion can be changed or not” and whether the marriage of the woman “is established on the basis of self-contradictory documents on record or not.”
The court also directed the state government to provide all facilities to the woman at the Nari Niketan, as well as “adequate security” to Faiz Modi’s family members, and listed the matter for November 7.
The matter comes in the backdrop of the controversial Kerala case involving Hadiya, a Hindu girl who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, Shefin Jahan. The Kerala High Court had annulled the marriage and given her custody to her father. The case is now in the Supreme Court.