Right to choose a partner is part of Article 21, says Allahabad HCtext_fields
Allahabad High Court made an historic turn and a significant judgement restated that an individual's right to live with the people of their choice, regardless of religion is innate to the right of life and personal liberty granted by the Constitution
The bench was ruling on a petition filed by Salamat Ansari, who married Priyanka Kharwar/Alia. Priyanka's father had filed an FIR against Salamat, stating that his daughter had been abducted and had deserted Hinduism to marry Salamat. The F.I.R. was filed under Sections 363, 366, 352, 506 I.P.C. and Section 7/8 POCSO Act, Police Station- Vishnupura, District Kushi Nagar.
Salamat Ansari (husband) and Priyanka Kharwar / Alia (wife) along with two others moved the High Court seeking quashing of FIR (lodged by the father of Priyanka Kharwar/ Alia) under Sections 363, 366, 352, 506 IPC and Section 7/8 POCSO Act
The bench said that it did not see Salamat and Priyanka as a Muslim and a Hindu, but as two adults who had chosen to spend their lives together of their own free will, and said they were happy together. The FIR filed by Priyanka's father must be quashed, the court said, as it appears to have been filed "prompted by malice and mischief only with a view to bring an end to marital ties", LiveLaw reported
The court said that the age of Priyanka Kharwar/Alia is not matter of dispute as her age is around 21 years and also cannot be accused of committing an offence under Section 363 IPC 3 or 366 IPC as victim. She left home with free will and as part of a decision to live with Salamat Ansari. The court also observed that Priyanka Kharwar/Alia is not a juvenile and hence the offence under Seciton 7/8 POCSO Act is invalid
Further, the Court added that allegations relating to an offence under Section 352, 506 on the above pretext, appear to be exaggerated and falsely motivated.
The Court also cited the apex court's ruling in the vase of Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M (2018) 16 SCC 368, and said that "the Apex Court has consistently respected the liberty of an individual who has attained the age of majority."
"To disregard the choice of a person who is of the age of majority would not only be antithetic to the freedom of choice of a grown-up individual but would also be a threat to the concept of unity in diversity," a bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal said.
"We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully, then neither any individual nor a family nor even the state can have an objection to the relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together," the judges also said.