New Delhi November 24th
The Allahabad High Court has overturned its previous judgment which held that religious conversion “just for the purpose of marriage”, was unacceptable. The court reiterated that a person’s right to live with people of their choice, irrespective of religion, is intrinsic to their right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.
A bench comprising Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal ruled that two of its earlier verdicts — which said that religious conversion solely for the purpose of a marriage was prohibited — are incorrect and do not lay down “good law”.
“None of these judgments dealt with the issue of life and liberty of two matured individuals in choosing a partner or their right to freedom of choice as to with whom they would like to live. We hold the judgments in Noor Jahan and Priyanshi as not laying good law,” Bar and Bench quoted the bench as observing on Monday.
“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. Interference in a personal relationship, would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals. We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same gender to live together peacefully then neither any individual nor a family nor even State can have objection to relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together,” it added.
The bench said that it doesn’t see “Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat Ansari as Hindu and Muslim”, rather as two grown-up individuals who are living together peacefully and happily for over a year out of their own free will and choice.
This assumes significance as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had referred to the judgement on November 1, as the basis for a new law that would criminalise “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory which accuses Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.