“Is UP government above the law?”: P Chidambaram reacts angrily after Allahabad High Court says nobody can interfere in peaceful life of two adults living together


Former Union Minister P Chidambaram has lashed out at the Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government by asking if it was above the law. This was after the Allahabad High Court made another hard-hitting observation in favour of interfaith marriage by two consenting adults in the state.

Chidambaram, himself a lawyer, asked, “Is UP government above the law? Do not the CM and the DGP believe in the ‘rule of law’? It is a disgrace that despite repeated judgements in the so-called ‘love jihad’ cases, the UP government and police continue to slap cases on couples under the unconstitutional law.”

The veteran Congress leader said that this was ‘not for the first time’ that the the Allahabad High Court had come ‘to the rescue of an inter-faith couple’ stating that ‘no one may interfere in their personal lives.’ “The crucial words are “Not for the first time”,” Chidambaram said.

Hearing a writ petition filed by one Shaista Parveen, earlier name Sangeeta, and her Muslim husband, Justice Saral Srivastava of the Allahabad High Court had observed, “The court has repeatedly held that where two individuals having attained the age of majority, are living together, nobody is entitled to interfere in their peaceful life.”

The couple had alleged harassment from their families. The Allahabad High Court cited an earlier judgment by the Supreme Court, which had said that ‘once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes.’ The top court had said in the famous Lata Singh v. State of UP in 2006, “If parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, the maximum they can do is that they can cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person, who undergoes such inter-caste or inter- religious marriage.”

[Also Read: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot takes stand against law on inter-faith marriages by BJP governments; says ‘love jihad’ manufactured by BJP to divide nation]

In their petition, the woman said that she had chosen to convert to Islam willingly to marry her Muslim partner. The couple sought protection of their lives and liberty, adding that they faced threats to their lives from their family members.

Not too long ago, as reported by the Livelaw website, a Division Bench of the High Court had reunited an interfaith couple while noting that the woman (Shikha) had ‘expressed that she wants to live with her husband (Salman @ Karan) she is free to move as per her own choice without any restriction or hindrance being created by third party.’

The law against the so-called love jihad was passed by the UP government in December last year. The law, according to Economic Times, makes ‘forceful’ religious conversion a non-bailable and cognizable offence. This could also lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000. The government has the power to declare such marriages null and void.
According to many experts, the law was enacted through an ordinance to harass Muslims and discourage them from marrying outside their religion, particularly involving Hindu girls.

The term ‘love jihad’ is often used by Hindutva bigots to refer to inter-faith marriages where brides are Hindu and grooms Muslim.