Adults Have Constitutional Right to Marry and Live With Person of Their Choice: Allahabad HC

In a reaffirmation of personal liberties under the Constitution of India, the Allahabad High Court has declared that adults are free to marry and live with a person of their choice, a right protected under Article 21. This ruling came as the court criticized a judicial magistrate for an erroneous decision involving a woman’s marital choice.

The bench, led by Justice JJ Munir and Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal, addressed an incident where a judicial magistrate had inappropriately sent a woman to her uncle’s home following an FIR lodged by the uncle against her husband. Despite her express fears for her safety if sent to her uncle or parents, the magistrate ignored her concerns. This oversight prompted the High Court’s intervention.

In its June 7 order, the court highlighted the potential danger of “honour killing,” a grim reality in some cases involving marital disputes and familial objections. The court criticized both the magistrate and local law enforcement officers for failing to protect the woman, noting that they were “equally answerable” for not safeguarding her safety and for not taking adequate legal actions against the uncle.

The woman, a 21-year-old, had married of her own volition in April 2024, under Muslim rites, with the Telangana State Waqf Board certifying the marriage. Her decision led to severe repercussions, including the wrongful arrest of her husband based on charges under section 363 of the Indian Penal Code.

When the woman was brought before the magistrate, she clearly stated her voluntary marital decision and expressed her fears of life-threatening actions from her uncle. Unfortunately, the magistrate ordered her to be placed in her uncle’s care, a decision now questioned by the High Court.

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The petitioners, the married couple, sought redressal at the High Court, which underscored the right of an adult to choose their partner freely, a precedent set by the court in a similar ruling last year. This ruling reaffirms that no external parties, including parents, can legally interfere in the personal marital decisions of adults.

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