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14th July 2023 (6 Topics)

An unacceptable verdict in the constitutional sense


The judgement by the Allahabad High Court in Kiran Rawat vs. State of UP has recently; declined the prayer by an interfaith couple in a live-in relationship for protection from police harassment has caught national attention.

Why was the judgement unacceptable in the constitutional sense?

  • First, the court is ostensibly carried away by the notions of conventional social morality rather than the constitutional principles on individual autonomy and personal liberty.
  • Second, in the process, the court also discarded several Supreme Court judgments, even after citing them, by giving untenable reasons.
  • Third, the High Court travelled much beyond the brief and relied on personal laws on marriage which were irrelevant.

What was wrong with the judgement?

  • Theological court- High Court acted as a theological court, as if the very idea of individual liberty and autonomy are alien to the writ jurisdiction.
  • Social Orthodoxy-The verdict shows a clear inclination towards social orthodoxy and religious revivalism.
  • Reiterated the traditional beliefs- In the guise of constitutional adjudication, the court only tried to reiterate the traditional beliefs on marriage and morals.

What should have been done?

  • Upheld the SC verdicts- High Court should have regarded the proposition of law laid down by the Supreme Court on questions of fundamental rights.
  • Endorsed Fundamental Right- High Court should have sought further particulars if required and endorsed the couple’s fundamental right, without conducting an unwanted and irrelevant survey of the personal laws on marriage.
  • Constitutional tenets should dominate- Moral lessons of personal laws should not supersede the constitutional tenets as doing so will lead to serious adjudicatory mishap.
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