Womens’ rights and equality activists have welcomed the observations of the Allahabad High Court on the institution of Triple Talaq among Muslims in India.
The observations, made while disposing of the petition of a 23-year-old woman and her 53-year-old husband, have also been hailed by the BJP, several Muslim organizations and many other social and cultural organisations.
However, a perusal of the written order reveals that the judgement itself will be of limited utility for those fighting for women’s rights as the observations have not been recorded in the written order, possibly because the matter itself is being heard by the Supreme Court.
Typically, one court does not pronounce judgements or binding observations on a matter that is being heard by another. The Supreme Court is hearing the matter of alleged gender imbalance in ‘triple talaq’ as practised in India, and has sought the center’s response on the matter.
The following is the full text of the order by Justice Suneet Kumar of the Allahabad High Court in the petition filed by Kaneej Fatema.
This petition has been filed by the petitioners for a direction upon the private respondents not to interfere with their marital life and liberty.
Petitioners have appeared in person before this Court, and they have been identified by their counsel Sri Virendra Kumar Yadav. It is stated that both petitioner nos.1 and 2 are major and they have solemnized their marriage out of their own sweet and free will. It is also stated that private respondents are interfering with marital life and liberty of the petitioners.
It is settled by the Apex Court in Lata Singh vs. State of U.P., AIR 2006 SC 2522, that it is the right of major individuals to live together or to solemnize marriage and no interference with such right is permissible. Para 17 of the said judgment is reproduced:-
“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 is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter- religious marriage. We, therefore, direct that the administration/police authorities throughout the country will see to it that if any boy or girl who is a major undergoes inter-caste or inter-religious marriage with a woman or man who is a major, the couple are not harassed by any one nor subjected to threats or acts of violence, and any one who gives such threats or harasses or commits acts of violence either himself or at his instigation, is taken to task by instituting criminal proceedings by the police against such persons and further stern action is taken against such persons as provided by law.”
A perusal of the record goes to show that petitioners have approached the Superintendent of Police by making an application for their safety and security.
In view of the law settled, it goes without saying that in case any interference with the marital life and liberty of the petitioners is made or any threat is extended to them, they shall be at liberty to approach the concerned Superintendent of Police, who shall examine petitioners’ grievance and take all steps, as may be warranted in law, to ensure that life and liberty of the petitioners is not interfered with by private respondents, keeping in view the observations made by the Apex Court in Lata Singh (supra).
Since the writ petition is being disposed of at the stage of fresh motion itself and notices have not been issued to private respondents, as such, liberty is given to them to file a recall, in case any of the averments made in the writ petition are found to be incorrect, and this order shall stand automatically vacated, in case any First Information Report has been lodged in the matter.
The Court has not gone into the validity of the marriage. It will be open for the parties to get their marriage registered in accordance with law within two months from date.
Subject to the observations made above, the writ petition stands disposed of.
Order Date :- 8.12.2016.