The Madhya Pradesh high court on Saturday directed the police to ensure that a 19-year-old woman, who was allegedly being detained by her family after she married a Muslim man, is reunited with her husband.
The woman married 22-year-old Gulzar Khan in a Mumbai court on December 28, 2021. On the same day, the woman’s family filed a missing person’s complaint at Gorakhpur police station, a small town in the outskirts of Jabalpur, people familiar with the matter said.
On January 21, Khan filed a petition in the MP high court alleging that the parents of his wife have forcibly taken her to Varanasi, and illegally detained her. During the hearing, the woman, through video conferencing, informed the court that she is an adult and willingly married the petitioner and converted to Islam.
“No moral policing can be allowed in such matters where the two major persons are willing to stay together whether by way of marriage or in a live-in relationship when the party to that arrangement is doing it willingly and not forced into it,” Justice Nandita Dubey said.
The court also rejected the state counsel’s demand to send the woman to a shelter home.
“The corpus is a major person whose age is not disputed by any of the parties the constitution gives a right to every major citizen of this country to live her or his life as per her or his wishes. Under the circumstances, the objection raised by the counsel for the state and her prayer to send the Corpus to Nari Niketan rejected,” the order said
The state counsel Priyanka Mishra said that marriage was in violation of the MP Freedom of Religion Act 2021. She said that as per Section 3 of the Act, no person shall convert for the purpose of marriage and any conversion in contravention to this provision shall be deemed null and void.
The court, however, dismissed the argument.
“The court said this case is not at all a violation of the act because the woman was not forced for conversion and they got married as per the rights given to them in the constitution, said Juned Khan, the petitioner’s counsel.
(With inputs from Monika Pandey from Jabalpur)