AN ADULT individual’s right to marry a person of his or her choice is a fundamental right that cannot be denied on the basis of caste or religion by anybody, according to an observation made by a division bench of the Karnataka High Court last week.
A bench of Justices S Sujatha and Sachin Shankar Magadum made the observation in the course of disposal of a habeas corpus plea filed by a 25-year-old software engineer, Wajeed Khan, over the refusal of the parents of a work colleague to acknowledge their interfaith marriage.
The petition, with the Bengaluru Police as respondents, sought the production of his fiancee Ramya G, a software engineer, and “to set her at her liberty”.
When the police produced her in court, Ramya told the court that she had been staying at a facility run by an NGO, Mahila Daskshata Samiti, in Bengaluru after her parents refused to allow her to marry Khan. She had been staying away from home after filing a complaint of alleged infringement of her liberty by her parents, she told the court in the presence of her parents and Khan’s mother who were summoned by the court.
“It is well settled that a right of any major individual to marry the person of his or her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India and the said liberty regarding the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion,” the bench said in its November 27 order while setting Ramya at liberty.
The court said that since the scope of a habeas corpus is limited to production of an individual in court, Ramya was being set to her liberty after the recording of her statement. “Ramya G being a software engineer is capable of taking a decision regarding her life,” it said.
The ruling came even as the Karnataka government followed other BJP-ruled states in claiming the need for a special law to stop inter-religious marriages, especially those involving women from majority communities with men from minority communities.
A division bench of the Allahabad High Court recently ruled in the case of a Muslim-Hindu couple Salamat Ansari and Priyanka Khanwar alias Alia that the “right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty”.
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