A couple from Ferozabad in Uttar Pradesh, who said they fell in love and married outside the boundaries of their religions at Arya Samaj Mandal, on April 17, 2014, sought the Supreme Court’s involvement, persuaded by its liberal and open-minded attitude towards inter caste marriages. The Supreme Court definitely didn’t let them down.
The petition filed through lawyer Savitri Pandey, said the boy Pushpendra alias Chhotu, is a Hindu while the woman, Sitara alias Chandini is originally a Muslim. Hence, they faced a threat to their lives as their marriage was not accepted by the girl’s family. The Husband was allegedly ‘falsely’ indicted with charges of abduction, by the wife’s family. The family had claimed in the FIR lodged at the Sirsaganj Police Station that she was a minor. The Bench directed the couple to approach Allahabad High Court for any further relief.
A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan ordered the Uttar Pradesh Police to provide protection to the couple for three months. The SHO of the Sisarganj police station in Firozabad will grant protection to the couple.
The petitioners reportedly submitted that the High Court adopted a hyper-technical view in the facts and circumstances of this case as the life and liberty of a citizen should have been of paramount consideration for the High Court as the petitioners, whose marriage is inter-religion, fear for their lives and the petitioner no.1 (youth) has been falsely implicated in the FIR which had been assailed in the writ petition…”
The Allahabad High Court had dismissed their petition to quash the FIR, on two occasions. On April 22, the boy’s family wasn’t present in the court. While after three days, the court declared the plea as non-maintainable as same plea cannot be raised twice before the court. The vacation Bench of the apex court said that the couple could move the High Court now for recall of its order.
The Petition questioned two people’s fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution to marry out of their own free will. The Supreme Court’s stand on the issue came up in the case of Lata Singh v. State of UP in 2006. With the facts of the case bearing similarity to the present case, a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Markandey Katju had said that such a case reveals a shocking state of affairs, and added that there is no dispute that the petitioner is a major and was at all relevant times a major. Hence she is free to marry anyone she likes or live with anyone she likes.
The Court felt necessary to make some general comments on the matter since several instances of harassment, threats and violence against young men and women who marry outside their castes were coming to their knowledge. The Court hence observed- The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news are coming from several parts of the country that young men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished.
This landmark judgment has since been referred to and followed in several other cases and justice has been served to people who have been victims of brutal, feudal minded people of the country, who are against inter-caste or inter-religion marriages and find ‘honor’ in killing the so-called perpetrators.