Upholding the right of an individual to marry the person of his or her choice, the Karnataka High Court recently directed a woman’s welfare organisation to release a software engineer who the court said was capable enough to take decision regarding her life.According to a report in The Times of India, the court said it was well settled that the right of any major individual to marry “the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India”, adding “the said liberty relating to the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion".
The statement echoed similar observations by the Allahabad and Delhi high courts. A division bench of Justices S Sujata and Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the ruling on November 27 while disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by one Wajeed Khan seeking the release of his friend Ramya G from confinement.
The ruling came at a time when several BJP-ruled state governments have been passing or mulling laws to bar alleged forced conversions in the name of marriage. The Karnataka government, led by BS Yediyurappa, is also in talks to table a legislation against 'love jihad', a conspiracy theory pushed by the saffron camp to discredit marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women and consequent alleged forced conversions.
Khan and Ramya, both software engineers and colleagues at a company, wish to get married, but have been facing opposition from the latter’s family members.
When the local police produced her before the court on November 27, Ramya said she was staying at a shelter of NGO Mahila Dakshatha Samithi after lodging a complaint with the Janodaya Santwana Kendra, a family dispute resolution forum, set up by the women and child development department.
Ramya said her parents were opposing her marriage with Khan and infringing on her right to liberty. Both parents as well as Khan’s mother were present at the court during the hearing. While Khan’s mother said she had consented to the union, Ramya’s parents did not do the same.
The bench said "The scope of habeas corpus being limited to produce the person and she being produced before the Court, recording her submission as aforesaid, we dispose of the writ petition setting her at liberty." The court then directed Mahila Dakshata Samithi directed to release her forthwith.