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