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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Gujarat High Court directs police to escort LRD trainee to marry Muslim partner, seeks explanation for detaining woman

The woman, who was present before the Gujarat HC bench via video-conferencing from a Junagadh district court on February 8, informed the bench that following the notice issued to the marriage registry in Ahmedabad, the couple were called to the Karanj police station in Ahmedabad at 8 pm and were only let go at 3 am.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
February 10, 2021 10:21:09 pm
The couple had issued notice of their intended marriage under the SMA to the marriage officer of Ahmedabad, as is required under Section 5 of the Act, on November 2020. (File)

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on February 8 sought an explanation from a police sub-inspector of Karanj police station for detaining and interrogating an adult, consenting woman for seven hours, who was to marry her Muslim partner. The division bench of the high court also ensured the safe passage of the woman, who is from a different faith and Lok Rakshak Dal (LRD) trainee, from the Junagadh academy to Ahmedabad so that she could solemnise her marriage in due time under the Special Marriages Act.

A habeas corpus petition was moved by the Muslim man earlier in February, seeking production of his partner, the LRD trainee, before the court. He also sought directions from the court to direct the registrar of special marriages, under the Special Marriages Act (SMA), to solemnise the couple’s marriage.

The couple had issued notice of their intended marriage under the SMA to the marriage officer of Ahmedabad, as is required under Section 5 of the Act, on November 2020. Under section 14 of the Act, a fresh notice has to be issued if a marriage is not solemnised within a span of three months since issue of the notice to the marriage officer.

With only a day left to the three-month expiry date of February 9, the high court bench immediately directed that the LRD trainee be granted leave and be accompanied by a woman police sub-inspector from Junagadh to Ahmedabad along with an employee from the District Legal Services Authority.

“Noticing some of the events narrated by the corpus, we found the presence of an employee of the DLSA necessary,” the bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Sangeeta Vishen stated in their order. The court also directed, “DCP Zone-2 (Ahmedabad city), shall avail necessary protection to the couple, during the entire process of registration of marriage and thereafter.”

The woman, who was present before the Gujarat HC bench via video-conferencing from a Junagadh district court on February 8, informed the bench that following the notice issued to the marriage registry in Ahmedabad, the couple were called to the Karanj police station in Ahmedabad at 8 pm and were only let go at 3 am.

The woman, earlier posted at the LRD Training Centre at Gomtipur in Ahmedabad, had taken a transfer to the Junagadh training centre following vehement opposition to the relationship from her family, besides her wish to continue with her career. She emphasised before the bench that she was keen to marry the petitioner and “according to her, it was the resistance on the part of her family, which has the support of the community, that she is unable to do so”. The LRD trainee also told the court that she was, however, not allowed to keep a cell phone at the Junagadh training centre.

The bench has now sought an explanation from the additional public prosecutor on why she wasn’t allowed to keep a cell phone since the rest of the trainees were allowed to do so the post-training hours.

The court directed that the court officer to “ascertain the reason of precluding the corpus to have any communication through cell phone while undergoing training at the Junagadh Training Centre when the same is permitted during post-training hours for other trainees” and convey the same to the court.”

The bench also spoke to the petitioner and said it was assured by the latter that he is willing to cooperate with the corpus in pursuing her training and that his family also supports her in every way.

Following submissions of all parties involved, while the division bench mulled the possibility of presenting the spouses and solemnising the marriage via video conference, the additional public prosecutor submitted that “despite the best of the efforts and cooperation by the sub-registrar of marriage, such presentation of the spouses through video conference would not suffice, as the signature of the spouses is a must”.

Recording that the marriage registrar submitted, “if required, he can travel to Junagadh”, the bench decided to permit the woman to travel to Ahmedabad and directed authorities to sanction her leave. It added, “Learned PDJ (Principal District Judge), Junagadh, to ensure the due execution of arrangements from Junagadh,” the order states.

“Noticing that this is an inter-religion marriage, with all the details, which have been given in the petition and vetted by the corpus, we deem it appropriate to direct a lady PSI to accompany the corpus to Ahmedabad, along with an employee of the District Legal Services Authority.”

The court also directed “a report of the sub-registrar of registration of marriage and affidavit of… PSI Karanj Police Station be tendered… explaining as to why the corpus was called at the police station after sunset for recording her statement” on February 12, when the matter has been posted for.

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