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Uttarakhand HC Suggests Enactment Of Freedom Of Religion Act To Curb "Sham Conversions" For Marriage [Read Order]

Apoorva Mandhani
20 Nov 2017 4:19 PM GMT
Uttarakhand HC Suggests Enactment Of Freedom Of Religion Act To Curb "Sham Conversions" For Marriage [Read Order]
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The Uttarakhand High Court, on Monday, suggested that the Freedom of Religion Act be enacted by the State legislature, in order to put an end to sham conversions for the sole purpose of marriage.

"...it needs to be mentioned that the Court has come across number of cases where the inter-religion marriages are being organized. However, in few instances, the conversion from one religion to another religion is a sham conversion only to facilitate the process of marriage. In order to curb this tendency, the State Govt. is expected to legislate the Freedom of Religion Act on the analogy of Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968 as well as Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, without hurting the religious sentiments of citizens," Justice Rajiv Sharma observed.

The Court further clarified that it was aware of the fact that "it is not the role of the Court to give suggestions to the State Government to legislate", but justified the suggestions "due to fast changing social milieu".

The observations were made while the Court was hearing a habeas corpus petition for production of one Ms. Urja Sharma, who had allegedly married Mr. Adil Hussain Ansari alias Atul Sharma. Mr. Sharma's conversion to Hinduism as well as his marriage to Ms. Sharma were contested before the Court.

In an earlier order, the Court had observed, "The fact, whether the respondent no.3 Atul Sharma has converted to Hinduism merely for the sake of marriage or he has converted for all other purposes, is a disputed question of fact which can only be determined by a competent court of law separately."

It had then sent Ms. Sharma to a Girls’ Hostel, in order to "allay the fear of parents", while acknowledging that she was a major. It had prohibited her family as well as Mr. Sharma from contacting her during her stay at the hostel.

During the hearing on Monday, the Court noted that Ms. Sharma had now intended to go with her parents and was, therefore, directed to be escorted to her parent's house.

Read the Order Here

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