On Tuesday, the Gujarat High Court ordered for an immediate release of an interfaith couple, who were arrested on account of their inter-religious marriage
The bench comprising of Justices Sonia Gokani and Sangeetha K Vishen, took note of the undue fervor by the police in arresting the couple “on account of it being an inter-religion marriage.”
Further, the bench also ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the police for detaining the couple. The Range IG, tasked with heading the inquiry, was directed to submit an inquiry report to the DIG.
“The facts of the case are quite glaring and also shocking,” stated the bench while expressing unhappiness over the turn of events after the coupe was arrested by the police following an FIR lodged by the woman’s family, which was against her decision to marry someone from a different religion.
A 30-year-old Muslim man from Palanpur got married to a 29-year-old Hindu woman, hailing from the same town, in December-end last year.
However, unhappy over the decision, the woman’s father lodged a complaint with Palanpur-East police, alleging that she stole money from the family’s home before running away.
Based on the said complaint, the Palanpur police arrested the couple. Later, a local magistrate remanded them in four-day police custody from January 18.
Following the police action, the Muslim man’s brother approached the HC on January 18 with a habeas corpus petition, seeking production of his recently-married brother while claiming that he was illegally arrested.
While hearing the habeas corpus petition, the Gujarat High Court issued orders calling for the immediate release of the couple upon their payment of a bond of Rs. 10,000 each. Further, the High Court proceeded to quash the remand order against the husband.
The court further directed the range inspector general, under whom Banaskantha falls, to inquire into the conduct of police inspectors of Palanpur-East and Palanpur- West police stations, “in whose custody the couple has been detained for all these days, and report to the DIG”.
While the petitioners also sought for police protection, on the ground that the husband was posted at Surat, the Court allowed the prayer, requiring the prosecution to instruct the Commissioner of Police, Surat to allow the couple protection as they traveled to Surat.
The Court has granted initial protection for four weeks, following which the Commissioner is expected to decide upon whether police protection should be extended.
The couple will also be entitled to apply for police protection a week in advance, as and when they wanted to travel back to Palanpur, the Court additionally directed.