Five months after the Supreme Court judgment in Hadiya Case, another inter-faith marriage has made its way to the Apex Court, with a Muslim man alleging disregard of the law laid down in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and others by the Chattisgarh High Court.
The petition, filed by one Mohd. Ibrahim Siddiqui challenges a judgment passed by the High Court on 30 July, when the High Court had refused to allow his plea for reuniting him with a 23-year-old girl, Anjali Jain, who he claimed to have married at the Arya Samaj Temple after Ibrahim adopted Hinduism. He has also submitted his marriage certificate to support his submissions.
Chhattisgarh HC order
In the impugned order, the High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra had refused to comment on the validity of the marriage, leaving the question open. It had, however, noted that while Anjali had denied being illegally detained by her parents, she did admit that her parents had “serious reservations” against her marriage with Ibrahim.
It had then opined that Anjali needed to be given “certain breathing space and time” to make up her mind, while asserting that it cannot direct her to be reunited with Ibrahim because that would involve recognising her status as Ibrahim’s legally wedded wife.
It had observed, “It is also evident from the pleadings and the arguments that the emotions are running high both sides and we are equally concerned about the safety and security of both the Petitioner as well as the girl, namely Anjali Jain. We therefore feel that certain breathing space and time is required to be given in a free atmosphere to Anjali Jain to make up her own independent mind. Under the circumstances, noticed in the earlier part of the order, we cannot also direct that she be released in favour of the Petitioner recognizing her status to be a legally married wife of the Petitioner.”
The Court had thereafter allowed Anjali to either go with her parents or stay in a hostel in Bilaspur. During her stay in the hostel, Ibrahim, as well as her parents, were allowed to visit her between 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm thrice a week i.e. on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with the permission of the hostel warden.
Further, it was left open for Ibrahim to take recourse of law with regard to his claim of marriage, with the Court asserting that the order had been passed “keeping in mind the safety of Anjali Jain as the first priority.”
Knocking the Supreme Court’s doors
Ibrahim has now challenged this order as being erroneous, asserting that the only relevant factor to be considered while deciding a habeas corpus petition dealing with the issue of private custody of an adult girl is the independent choice of the girl.
In his petition, filed through Advocate TVS Raghavendra Sreyas, he further alleges that the High Court had erred in not following the law laid down in Hadiya case, submitting, “…the Hon’ble High Court erred in not following the law laid down by this Hon’ble Court in Shafin Jahan and Others v. Asokan K.M. and Others, 2018 (5) SCALE 422, whereby this Hon’ble Court has clearly laid down that the role of Court in dealing with a Habeas Corpus petition is to see that the detenue is produced before it, find out about his/her independent choice and see to it that the person is released from illegal restraint.
It is submitted that in the instant case, the detenue Anjali Jain after being produced before the High Court had clearly expressed in open Court that she wished to live with the Petitioner, but the High Court disallowed her to do so and directed her to choose to live with her parents or go to a Hostel. It is respectfully submitted that the impugned order is thus patently illegal and liable to be set aside.”
Furthermore, Ibrahim has alleged that he has been threatened by Anjali’s family members as well as “notorious religious elements of the society who are now seeking to create a religious issue out of the Petitioner’s marriage”.
Therefore, as interim measures, Ibrahim demands immediate police protection and security for himself as well as Anjali, in addition to a direction for production of Anjali before the Court to ascertain her independent choice. Besides, it raises the following questions of law: