Adult woman free to marry and convert as per her choice: Calcutta HC

The Bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee was dealing with a petition moved by a father to trace his "missing" 19-year-old daughter.

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Courts cannot interfere if an adult woman marries and converts to another religion of her own free will, the Calcutta High Court reaffirmed on Monday.

The Bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee was dealing with a petition moved by a father to trace his “missing” 19-year-old daughter.

After the woman was traced, she was found to have married and converted to the religion of her husband. A statement given before a police officer indicated that she had done so of her own free will and that she did not wish to return to her paternal home.

“She is 19 years old. She has married a person of her choice and she apparently does not want to return to her paternal home. If an adult marries as per her choice and decides to convert and not return to her paternal house, there can be no interference in the matter,” the Court made it clear.

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The father-petitioner, however, raised apprehensions that she may have been induced to give her police statement. Therefore, the woman gave a second statement before the Magistrate, again indicating that she was not under any coercion or undue influence.

This was also not sufficient to convince her father.

“Despite a clear and clean report being furnished, the father harbours some suspicion,” the Court noted.

All the same, the High Court pointed out that there cannot be any interference.

To allay the father’s suspicions, the Court directed the daughter to meet Additional Public Prosecutor Saibal Bapuli in his chamber without anyone else present in the room, so that he may file a short report on the matter by December 24.

This report was first published on Bar and Bench.

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