Stating that the court is “not against interfaith or inter-caste marriages”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the “husband” of a Chhattisgarh woman, whose parents alleged that she was “fraudulently” lured into an interfaith marriage, to file an affidavit stating his bona fides, even as it advised him to be “a great lover and a loyal husband”.
Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah also said that the court is only trying to secure her future in view of contradictions highlighted by the petitioner, and also because there have been cases where a woman has been abandoned after some time.
The remarks came while the bench was hearing a plea filed by the woman’s father through advocate Kausthubh Shukla.
The father in his petition stated that the woman, his elder daughter, was under medication for mental health issues and had in the past expressed desire to be with her parents.
Last year, Shukla said, her husband moved the Supreme Court against a Chhattisgarh High Court order refusing to recognise their marriage. The court had then spoken with the woman, who said she wanted to be with her parents, Shukla said.
Appearing for the father, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said she was with her parents when, in March this year, 70 to 80 police personnel barged into their home and took her away. When the parents complained, they were told that the police had acted on the complaint of her husband, a Muslim, Rohatgi submitted.
He had converted to Hinduism at an Arya Samaj temple before the wedding and assumed a Hindu name, but the marriage certificate bore his Muslim name, Rohtagi said. “It shows he does not have a fair mind,” the senior advocate submitted.
Taking note, the bench asked senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the husband, why it was so.
Dwivedi said he had instructions to say that the certificate produced in court was not the real one and asked what its relevance was in the present matter. He referred to the Hadiya case, in which a Muslim man from Kerala had approached the court alleging that his wife, who was Hindu before marriage, was illegally detained by her parents.
In that case, Dwivedi said, a three-judge bench of the top court had upheld the right of a person to choose a partner of his or her choice.
To this, the court said, “…We are not averse to even living-together relations but we have to be concerned about her…. We have a duty to protect her.”
As senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the woman, said there is “no need to portray women as vulnerable and in need of protection from someone”, the court did not relent and said it was only trying to secure her future in view of contradictions highlighted by the petitioner.
Justice Mishra said, “We are not against interfaith or inter-caste marriages…. But what if the husband leaves the girl after some time? We just want to know his bona fides. We have a duty. (The) rest is her destiny.”
Turning to Dwivedi, Justice Mishra remarked, “Be a loyal husband.”
Justice Shah added, “Not just a great husband — be a great lover and a loyal husband.”