The case where the video of Justice Rohit Arya of the Madhya Pradesh High Court asking the Hindu Husband in an interfaith marriage to convert to Islam had gone viral, has been finally disposed of by the Bench of Justice Rohit Arya and Justice Milind Ramesh Phadke.

The Bench has declared that the conversion certificate and marriage certificate issued to the interfaith couple by an Arya Samaj Trust are null and void.

The Court has also directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad to investigate one Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir Trust in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, for carrying out the alleged illegal religious conversion of a Muslim girl while issuing certificates of religious conversion and marriage.

"Looking to the nature of activities under reference such as conversion of a Muslim girl to Hindu religion, found to be illegal and vulnerable in public domain, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad is directed to get an investigation done for verification of existence/constitution and members of the respondent no.6/Vivah Mandir Trust…", the Court directed.

The Court was dealing with the plea of a Hindu man seeking a writ of habeas corpus for production of his wife before the Court.

As per the petitioner, he had run away with a Muslim girl and thereafter the girl had converted her religion from Muslim to Hindu at the Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir Trust at Ghaziabad. He submitted that a certificate of conversion was issued by the said trust and thereafter both of them got married at the same Vivah Mandir Trust and a marriage certificate was issued to them by the Trust.

Also, an FIR was registered against the petitioner husband for the offences punishable under sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code at the instance of the wife's family.

The corpus (wife), in her statement, revealed that she wanted to marry the petitioner and, therefore, had eloped with him from her house to Delhi and then to Ghaziabad, where they solemnized the marriage after her conversion to Hindu religion at the Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir.

After her recovery, she was produced before the Additional District Magistrate and Mukhya Sanchetak, One Stop Centre, under whose order she has been sent to a government-run temporary residential accommodation.

With the support of certificates of religious conversion and marriage, the petitioner filed a petition before the MP High Court seeking quashment of order and for production of corpus before the Court.

Advocate Suresh Agrawal appeared for the petitioner whereas Additional Advocate General, M.P.S. Raghuvanshi appeared for Respondent-State. The Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir Trust was represented by Advocates Balwant Singh Billowria and Prabhat Kumar Singh. Advocate Faisal Ali Shah was the Amicus Curiae.

The Court observed that the act of issuing conversion certificate was way beyond the aims and objects of the Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir Trust and that the bylaws of the Trust did not empower it to conduct such conversions or issue such certificates.

The Court further noted that "…it cannot be lost sight of that petitioner and the corpus are both domicile of Madhya Pradesh and, therefore, the said act of issuing conversion certificate is also in stark violation of section 5 of the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968 that mandates intimation to the District Magistrate and also entails penal provision for its violation under sub-section (2)."

"The Authorities empowered under an enactment or Rules are only competent to issue marriage certificates like those under the Special Marriage Act and Compulsory Registration of Marriage Rules. There is no provision for issuance of marriage certificates under the Hindu Marriage Act.", the Court observed.

The Court also observed that nothing was on record to suggest that either Vivah Mandir is affiliated to or recognized by Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha or had sent intimation to it in terms of the Apex Court's direction where it was held that information regarding solemnization of every marriage in writing must be sent to the Madhya Bhartiya Arya Pratinidhi Sabha within 7 days from the date of solemnization of marriage.

"Not only this, there is no averment to the effect that the said marriage has been registered either in Madhya Pradesh in compliance of the provisions of Rule 3 of the Madhya Pradesh Compulsory Registration of Marriage Rules, 2008, or for that matter, in Uttar Pradesh under Rule 4 of the Hindu Marriage Registration Rules, 1973.", the Court held.

The Court also raised serious doubt on the Trust deed of the said Trust as regards its existence in the eyes of law.

Therefore, the Court held thus "In view of the aforesaid, this Court has no hesitation in holding that the conversion certificate (Annexure P/3) and marriage certificate (Annexure P/4) are without any authority of law and, hence, null and void.".

"At this juncture, it is imperative to observe that the nefarious activities of respondent no.6 in converting people from one religion to another without any authority of law, are not only detrimental to the social fabric and public order but also have potential to trigger mass unrest which may result into communal tension and riotous activities affecting ease of life and communal harmony.", the Court added further.

The Court directed SSP, Ghaziabad to investigate the Vivah Mandir Trust, as also its activities/methodology of functioning including books of accounts and records. The Court has also directed the SSP to take suitable corrective measures as per law.

Before parting with the case, the Bench directed the Additional District Magistrate to arrange for an in-camera video-graphed meeting of the corpus with her parents within one week. The Court further directed that if the corpus, who is a major, is not inclined to go with her parents, she be set free to go as per her wishes.

Cause Title- Rahul alias Golu v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors.

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