The Allahabad High Court, through a judgement dates 16.12.2014, dismissed a batch of Writ Petitions which were filed praying for protection as a married couple as they had tied the knot after the girls got their religion converted from Hindu to Islam and then performed the Nikah.
The girls had stated that they had got converted. However, they did not state that they have renounced Hindu Religion. In that context, the question to the considered by the court was: "Whether conversion of religion of a Hindu girl at the instance of a Muslim boy, without any knowledge of Islam or faith and belief in Islam and merely for the purpose of Marriage (Nikah) is valid?"
Answering the question in negative and reiterating the Supreme Court’s stand in the case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India, the Court observed, “A conversion of religion by an individual to Islam can be said to be bonafide if he/she is major and of sound mind and embraces Islam by his/her own freewill and because of his/her faith and belief in the oneness of God (Allah) and prophetic character of Mohamed. If a conversion is not inspired by religion feeling and under gone for its own sake, but is resorted merely with object of creating a ground for some claim of right or as a device adopted for the purpose to avoid marriage or to achieve an object without faith and belief in the unity of God (Allah) and Mohamed to be his prophet, the conversion shall not be bonafide. In case of a religion conversion there should be a change of heart and honest conviction in the tenets of new religion in lieu of tenets of the original religion.”
The petitioners had submitted that since the petitioners of each writ petitions are major and their marriage is evidenced by Nikahnama, they are entitled for the relief.
The State had contended that the petitioners were not entitled to protection as a married couple because their conversion and Nikah both were doubtful. The State asserted that the religion of petitioner girls had been converted under the dictate of petitioner boys only for the purposes of alleged Nikah and hence, there was neither any valid religion conversion nor valid Nikah.
After appraisal of the facts, the Court found the stories of the petitioners as unreliable, having found several discrepancies and manipulations in their stories. It also observed that since one of the petitioner girls did not even know the basics of Islam, she couldn’t have accepted it as “a person cannot be said to have accepted Islam unless he knows the basics of Islam.”
Hence, adhering to the settled law that a person who invokes jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India should approach the Court with clean hands, clean mind and clean heart, the Court dismissed the petitions.
On making an attempt to define religion, the Court observed that it is “a matter of faith stemming from the depth of the heart and mind. It is a belief which binds the spiritual nature of man to a super natural being. It is an object of conscientious devotion, faith and pietism. Devotion in its fullest sense is a consecration and denotes an act of worship.”
The Court accepted that a non Muslim who has attained majority and is of sound mind may embrace 'Islam' by declaring that he believes in the oneness of God and the prophetic character and that Mohamed is his prophet. He shall be a Mahomedan if he professes the Mahomedan religion in the sense that he accepts the unity of God and prophetic character of Mohamed.
It hence observed, “Conversion to another religion basically requires change of faith and belief of personal relations of a major individual of sound mind by his free will, with what he/she regards as Cosmos, his/her Maker or Creator, which he/she believes, regulates the existence of insentients beings and the forces of Universe.”