In an unprecedented move, Gujarat High Court permitted a 19-year-old Hindu girl to live-in with her Muslim boyfriend, who is just 20 years old and is currently ineligible for marriage.
The matter came in front of the high court when the boy, who is engaged in his family’s readymade clothes business, approached the HC by filing a habeas corpus petition that his girlfriend was detained by her parents against her wishes and that she should be set free.
When the court issued a notice, Banaskantha police brought the girl before the court, where she said that she did not want to live with her parents and added that she and her boyfriend would get married as soon as he turns 21, reported Times of India.
While allowing their reunion to take place on the wishes of the girl in a remote town of Dhanera in the border district of Banaskantha, a bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Biren Vaishnav said, “Our society puts considerable stress on the institution of marriage and its sanctity. Instances of live-in relationship are largely confined to metro cities and other urban centres. Despite this, we must recognise our legal limitation in forcing an adult person of sound mind to stay at a place she does not want. Correspondingly, we also must recognise that we do not have the power to prevent the girl who is 19 years of age and is of sound mind from exercising her choice and joining the petitioner (her boyfriend), if she so desires.”
The court asked the boy to file an affidavit that he would marry the girl upon turning 21.
The boy and girl studied together in school and were in love since their school days, according to the case details. Neither was ready to change his/her religion and the only option left was to have their marriage registered under the Special Marriages Act. The girl was eligible for this as she was above 18, but the boy was not because he was not yet 21.
This limitation led them to notarize a ‘maitri karar’ (a friendship agreement used in Gujarat to formalise live-in relationships) in July. However, the girl’s parents had forcibly taken her away in September.