Gujarat HC Orders Inter-faith Couple’s Release from Police Custody

The Gujarat High Court has ordered immediate release of an inter-faith couple arrested by Palanpur police in Banaskantha district following an FIR lodged by the woman’s family, which was apparently unhappy over her decision to get married against their wishes. In its order issued on Tuesday, a division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Sangeeta Vishen expressed unhappiness over the turn of events, terming them as “shocking”.

While ordering the couple’s release, the high court observed that police had shown “undue fervour” while dealing with this case of “inter-religion marriage”. The high court, while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the brother of the 30-year-old man, quashed the remand order issued by a local magistrate and asked the Palanpur police to release the couple immediately.

The court in its order 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”. The 30-year-old Muslim man from Palanpur got married to a 29-year-old Hindu woman, hailing from same town, in December-end last year.

The petition stated that the woman and the man were friends since childhood. The man now works in Surat. Apparently being unhappy over the woman’s decision, her father lodged a complaint with Palanpur-East police, alleging that she stole money from the family’s home before running away.

Based on the complaint, the Palanpur police arrested the couple around a week back. Later, a local magistrate remanded them in four-day police custody from January 18.

Following the police action, the 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. As the couple has decided to settle in Surat, the state government has assured the HC that Surat police commissioner will be intimated to provide them protection initially for a period of four weeks.

Later, the couple would take a call on whether to continue the protection or not, the prosecutor told the court.

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