Right to Marry Person of One’s Choice Is Integral: Supreme Court

The apex court had set aside the Kerala HC order on 8 March, saying it would offer a detailed order later. 

Published
India
2 min read
 A marriage under court scrutiny. Hadiya Jahan, known as Akhila Ashokan before she converted to Islam, married Shafin Jahan in December 2015. 
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Expanding on its 8 March order, where it had set aside the Kerala High Court order which annulled the marriage of Hadiya, a woman who had converted from Hinduism to Islam, to her husband Shafin Jahan, the Supreme Court on Monday said: “The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution”.

A report by The Indian Express states that a three-judge bench delivered two separate concurring judgments, one comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar and the other by Justice DY Chandrachud.

The court also said that it would allow the NIA to continue its investigations into the case, as long as it did not “encroach upon their marital status”.

The choice of a partner whether within or outside marriage lies within the exclusive domain of each individual. Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable. The absolute right of an individual to choose a life partner is not in the least affected by matters of faith. 
Justice Chandrachud, as reported by The Indian Express

“The Constitution guarantees to each individual the right freely to practise, profess and propagate religion. Choices of faith and belief as indeed choices in matters of marriage lie within an area where individual autonomy is supreme…Neither the state nor the law can dictate a choice of partners or limit the free ability of every person to decide on these matters. They form the essence of personal liberty under the Constitution,” he said.

Speaking about the protection of personal liberty in the Constitution, Justice Chandrachud also said that the “cohesion and stability” of the Indian society depends greatly on its diversified culture, something that the courts are “duty-bound” to protect, the report adds.

Calling the Kerala High Court’s order “erroneously guided”, the judgment put forth by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar, as reported by The Hindu, said:

Freedom of faith is essential to his/her autonomy; Choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality and sans it, the right of choice becomes a shadow.
Joint statement put out by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar

The court also called Hadiya’s father “obstinate” and said that his motive in moving the High Court in terms of the “forced conversion” of his daughter, was a “manifestation of the idea of patriarchal autocracy and possibly self-obsession with the feeling that a female is chattel”.

“The months which Hadiya lost, placed in the custody of her father and against her will, cannot be brought back,” Justice Chandrachud said, as reported by The Indian Express.

(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Hindu)

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