J&K HC | Inter-caste marriage between two consenting adults – integral part of right to choice under Article 21 – authorities to ensure protection of such couple

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Bench of Sanjay Kumar Gupta, J. allowed a petition seeking protection, filed by a couple who performed inter-caste marriage.

The petitioners out of their free will and consent executed a marriage agreement duly attested by notary. They also married as per Hindu rites and customs at Arya Samaj Janipur, Jammu. As per the affidavit filed by them, it was evident that they were major at the time they solemnized the marriage. Father of the girl (Respondent 5) was vehemently opposed to their marriage; and he harassed and threatened to kill them. This led the petitioners to restrict their movement and being aggrieved, they filed the instant petition.

The Court relied on Shafin Jahan v. Ashokan K.M., (2018) 16 SCC 368 to hold that right to marry a person of one’s choice is an integral aspect of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Reliance was further placed on Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475, wherein the Apex Court directed 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, anyone 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”.

In view of the above, this petition was allowed and official respondent’s 1 to 4 were directed to ensure adequate protection of lives and liberty of the petitioners.[Simran Choudhary v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 404, Order dated 01-05-2019]

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