New Delhi: At a time when a ‘Love Jihad’ case from Kerala has been making headlines, another intriguing instance of inter-faith marriage has come up before the Supreme Court, but with a twist.
This time, a Muslim man has converted to Hinduism and married a Hindu girl at an Arya Samaj temple. He recited shlokas and took the seven vows walking around the fire as they got married at Bhopal in April 2016.
But the girl’s family in Madhya Pradesh lodged an FIR, claiming the girl is a minor and that the man kidnapped her. The police then took away the girl and placed her in the custody of her father.
The man then moved the Supreme Court and filed a habeas corpus petition. He submitted that he had validly converted to Hinduism and wanted his wife back.
The 24-year-old, who is a sepoy in Army, also produced letters to show that he did inform his superior in the Army about his religious conversion. The girl’s statement to a magistrate, supporting his version that she was a major, was also shown to the court.
However, his year-long quest reached a dead end, with the Supreme Court dismissing his case without issuing any directive to reunite him with his ‘wife’.
A bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit, which interacted with the girl at least twice during the pendency of the case, closed the case, saying it was not possible for the court to pronounce upon the validity of the marriage since the factors about the man’s conversion and validity of conversion required adjudication.
“Whether the petitioner has factually converted his religion and whether conversion only to marriage is in accordance with law is a dispute which require adjudication. In absence of such adjudication, it is not possible to accept that a valid marriage has taken place between the petitioner and the daughter of respondent No.4 so as to grant the relief sought,” stated the court order last week.
The court also took note of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968 which requires a procedure for conversion of religion, under which an intimation has to be sent to the district magistrate about conversion.
It observed that the man would have to first prove before the authorities concerned that he converted to Hinduism and then satisfy that conversion only for the purpose of getting married was a valid act under the relevant law.
“Accordingly, this petition is dismissed without prejudice to any other remedy in accordance with law,” held the bench, wrapping up the case being heard since October last year.
Advocate NS Dalal, who represented the man in court, told CNN-News18 that it was unfortunate that the apex court chose to steer clear of the matter and not exercise its jurisdiction to give justice to the couple.
“While the Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ case is getting so much attention that the Supreme Court has now decided to call the woman to the court only to know about her wishes, this case got shut abruptly even though the girl had expressed her desire and recorded her statement before the magistrate as well,” added Dalal.
Another bench in the Supreme Court has sought the presence of a Hindu woman, who converted to Islam and got married to a Muslim man. Her marriage was annulled on a habeas corpus petition filed by her father. The Supreme Court in August ordered a NIA probe into such cases, but has now decided to hear her side of the story first on November 27.