Inter-religious marriages in India

Justice

When I was a judge in the Allahabad High Court ( 1991-2004 ) many cases came before me of inter-religious marriages. Almost all such cases were of a Hindu girl who fell in love with a Muslim boy, got converted to Islam, and married him by a Nikah ceremony.

In such cases, the girl’s father would file an FIR stating that his daughter had been abducted forcibly, and against that, a petition would be filed in the High Court.

In all these cases I would summon the couple in court, and ascertain only two things (1) the age of the girl. If she was above 18 years of age, the law regarded her as a major ( under the Indian Majority Act, 1875 ), and she had the legal right to marry or live with anyone (2) the wish of the girl.

If I was satisfied she was above 18 ( which could be ascertained from her school record or medical evidence ), and wanted to live with the young man, I quashed the FIR, set the couple free, and gave them police protection, if needed ( see Lata Singh vs State of UP, which judgment I gave when I was in the Supreme Court ).

I remember only one case where a Muslim girl married a Hindu man, and the girl’s father filed an FIR alleging abduction.

I summoned the couple to court. The girl was about 23 years old ( as evident from her school record ) and said before me that she wanted to live with the Hindu man.

The previous evening a Muslim friend had come to my residence and requested that I should order the girl to be sent back to her parents, whom he evidently knew. I told him I would not have double standards. The same principle applied, whether the girl was a Hindu or Muslim. If she was above 18, she had the right to live with and/or marry whom she wished.

Next day when the case was taken up the girl’s father, who was present in court, started crying incessantly.

He appeared to be a respectable gentleman, dressed in a sherwani.

I told him that I could understand his grief. India is still broadly a conservative country, in which Hindus would like to marry their daughter to a Hindu, and Muslims to a Muslim. But, I told him, my hands were tied by the law, and according to the law once a girl is a major she can live with or marry anyone she chooses. Having said that, I decided accordingly.

Justice Markandey Katju

(Justice Markandey Katju is former Chairman, Press Council of India and former Judge, Supreme Court of India.)

Sharing is caring!

Be the first to comment on "Inter-religious marriages in India"

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares