The Right to marriage and right to choice is under the spotlight in recent times. This is in light of the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 (Uttar Pradesh) and the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Conversion Ordinance 2020. However, Himachal Pradesh upheld the importance of these two crucial rights in its recent order.
The simplest way to explain the case is that the case is with regard to an inter-caste marriage, an upper-caste woman marrying a man belonging to a lower caste. The petitioner, Sanjeev Kumar stated that Komal Parmar was illegally detained by her family and relatives to prevent their marriage. The petition stated that
“the only reason that petitioner belongs to a caste which is considered by family, relatives and friends of Komal Parmar a lower caste, is the cause of the whole incident leading to the abduction and illegal detention of Ms. Komal Parmar.”
The petitioner had submitted that Komal is produced before the Court, in furtherance of the same Komal was produced. She stated that she was prevented from marrying the petitioner due to difference in caste, the financial instability of the petitioner and the family’s claim of her mental weakness.
The Court stated that
“We are living in a State governed by the Constitution and discrimination on the basis of caste by denying of right to choose spouse, is in violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”
The single-judge bench of Justice Vivek Singh Thakur also quoted Bhagavad Gita while ordering that
“Discrimination on the basis of caste sometimes is propounded on the basis of some Smritis and Puranas, forgetting the basic principle that the highest source of religious norms are Vedas and anything in any other religious texts, including Smritis and Puranas, which is contrary to the principles propounded in Vedas, is to be considered ultra vires to Vedas and thus, contrary to Dharma and, therefore, is to be discarded.”
The Court also highlighted the importance of the fundamental right to marry when stating that “the right to marry or, for valid reasons, not to marry, as well as the right to choose a spouse, is a well-recognized right in Indian society since the ancient era.” The Court held that Komal is free to go and live wherever she wants while holding that “Komal is major, capable of taking her own decisions and is entitled to the right recognized by the Constitution to lead her life exactly as she pleases.”
She expressed the desire to live with her friend, Pooja Devi who is the sister of the petitioner. The Court directed the Superintendent of Police Shimla and Hamirpur, SHOs Sadar (Shimla), District Shimla and Nadaun, District Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh to escort her to wherever she wanted to go to.
Case: Sanjeev Kumar v. State of H.P. and others [Cr.Writ Petition No. 2 of 2021]
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