The police had filed an FIR against the husband in 2017, accusing him of kidnapping the wife.
The Allahabad High Court has directed the police in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district not to take action against an inter-faith couple on the basis of a first information report filed against the husband in 2017, Live Law reported on Thursday. The couple alleged that they were being harassed by the police since the implementation of the anti-conversion law in the state.
The police had filed the FIR against the man under Sections 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage) of the Indian Penal Code.
The couple told the High Court’s Lucknow bench that they got married three years ago and have a one-and-a half-year-old child.
A bench comprising Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Saroj Yadav directed the police not to take any coercive action against them till the next date of hearing in the case. The bench gave the state government a week’s time to file its response.
On Wednesday, the court had ruled that the requirement to give a public notice of intended marriage under the Special Marriage Act was not mandatory in Uttar Pradesh. Sections 6 and 7 of the Act require the couple to publish a public notice 30 days prior to the marriage to invite or entertain objections.
The court said making such publication mandatory “would invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy, including within its sphere the freedom to choose for marriage without interference from state and non-state actors, of the persons concerned”. The ruling was significant as it came amid a raging debate about the implementation of anti-conversion laws, especially in Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine the constitutional validity of anti-conversion laws enacted by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but refused to stay the controversial legislations in these states.
The ordinance against unlawful conversions was promulgated by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28, days after it was passed by the Adityanath-led state Cabinet. Since then, the police have arrested several Muslim men under the law.
The law is intended to target “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, four other BJP-ruled states – Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Assam – have also decided to introduce laws aimed at preventing inter-faith marriage.
The Centre itself told the Lok Sabha in February that no “case of ‘love jihad’ had been reported by any of the central agencies”. Investigations by the National Investigation Agency and the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department have turned up no evidence for this alleged conspiracy either. The National Commission for Women maintains no data about “love jihad” too.