Allahabad High Court says conversion required for all relationships in nature of marriage, including live-in

The Allahabad High Court while dismissing the petition observed that conversion is not only required for the purpose of marriage, but it is also required in all relationship in the nature of marriage, therefore, Conversion Act applies to relationship in the nature of marriage or live-in- relationship.

A Single Bench of Justice Renu Agrawal passed this order while hearing a petition filed by interfaith couples.

The petition under Article 226 of the Constitution has been preferred by the petitioners with the following prayers:‐

” (i) Issue a writ order or direction in the nature of mandamus commending the respondents not to harass/torture/illegally arrest the petitioners or to interfere or create hindrance in the peaceful living of the petitioners as living husband and wife and to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners.

(ii) Issue a writ order or direction in the nature of mandamus as the Court may deem fit and proper under the facts and circumstances of the case.

(iii) Award the cost of the petition to the petitioners.”

It is submitted by the counsel for the petitioners that both the petitioners have attained the age of majority. As per high school certificate-cum-marks sheet the date of birth of petitioner No 1-Girl is 25.12.1999 and she is aged about more than 24 years and as per pan card the date of birth of the petitioner No 2-Boy is 04.03.2000 and he is aged about more than 23 years.

It is submitted that both the petitioners are major and they developed love affair and solemnized their marriage on 01.01.2024, as per Rituals of Arya Samaj. They have applied on-line for registration of their marriage before the competent authority, which is pending.

Counsel for the petitioners has averred in the petition that they are living as wife and husband and their relationship is not relished and agreed by private respondent no 4 and he is interfering in their marital life. The petitioners apprehend danger to the life and liberty from respondent No 4, therefore, the indulgence of the Court is sought. Petitioner No 1 has also moved an application before the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi on 17.01.2024 by registered post, seeking protection for herself and petitioner No 2 from respondent No 4, but no action has been taken by police authorities in the matter. Therefore, the petition moved by the petitioners for issuance of mandamus against respondent no 4.

On the other hand, Standing Counsel submitted that both the petitioners are different religion and either of the parties have not applied for conversion of their religion, as per sections 8 & 9 of Conversion Act. The Muslim women cannot solemnized her marriage with Hindu man as per the rituals of Arya Samaj, in Hindu Marriage Act. Hence opposed the prayer of petition.

The Court observed that both the petitioners have attained the age of majority. As per high school certificate- cum-marks sheet the date of birth of petitioner No1 is 25.12.1999 and she is aged about more than 24 years and as per pan card the date of birth of the petitioner No 2 is 04.03.2000 and he is aged about more than 23 years. Both the petitioners are major and they developed love affair and solemnized their marriage on 01.01.2024, as per Rituals of Arya Samaj. They have applied on-line for registration of their marriage before the competent authority, which is pending.

The Court said that in the relationship of marriage or in the nature of live-in- relationship there must be two consenting adults human beings. The concept of Gotra, Caste and Religion is left a way back. No one has right to interfere in the personal liberty of two adults, not even the parents to two adults can interfere in their relationship, but, the Right to Freedom or Right to Personal Liberty is not an absolute or unfettered right, it is qualified by some restrictions also. The freedom of one person extincts where the statutory right of another person starts, hence, the freedom of one person cannot encroach or overweigh the legal right of another person. If the petitioners are already married and had their spouse alive, he/she cannot be permitted to enter into live-in-relationship with third person without seeking divorce from the earlier spouse. He/she first has to obtain the decree of divorce from the court of competent jurisdiction before solemnizing marriage of entering into live-in-relationship out of their legal marriage.

The Court further observed that,

It is pertinent to mention here that The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 has come into force on 05.03.2021, thereafter it is made mandatory for interfaith couples to seek conversion according to the provisions of the Act. In the case at hand, admittedly, none of the petitioners has moved application for conversion of religion in accordance with Section 8 and 9 of the Act.

Explanation to Section 3(1) of the Act reads as follows:-

“3(1) No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means. No person shall abet, convince or conspire such conversion”.

“Certainly, the Courts have power to interpret the provisions of law if there is ambiguity in the provisions of law, but, the above mentioned law is explicit which mandates that conversion is required not only in cases of inter-caste marriages but relationship in the nature of marriage, hence, Courts should refrain from embarking upon the interpretation of law in any sense when the law is very explicit.

While applying the principles laid down in various pronouncements by the Apex Court, it gives guidelines to the fact that couple must be of legal age to marry and qualified to enter into legal marriage including being unmarried and they must be akin to spouse for significant period of time. No proof of joint account, financial security, joint property or joint expenditure is produced before the Court. Petitioners have not applied for conversion so far. Till date, no F.I.R has been lodged by the parents of any of the petitioner, therefore, there is no challenge to the relationship of petitioners.

In view of the discussions as above, it is not considered desirable that relationship of the petitioners be protected in contravention of the statutory provisions of law passed by legislature, hence, petition has no force and is liable to be dismissed”, the Court also observed while dismissing the petition. 

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