A division bench of the Bombay high court recently went out of its way to settle an unexpected conflict between a newly married Hindu-Muslim couple from Jammu.
When Daljeet Chand from Jammu eloped with his childhood sweetheart Waziran and got married in Mumbai, he had braced himself for stiff opposition from the bride's conservative and influential family. What he had not bargained for was that Waziran would threaten to walk out on him within barely a month of their marriage.
As expected by Daljeet, the girl's family had lodged a case of kidnapping with the Chenani police in Udhampur district of Jammu on the grounds that the girl was a minor. The newly married groom, who is a corporal with the Indian Air Force and his wife, who changed her name to Prathiba after converting to Hinduism, had approached the Bombay high court seeking protection from the alleged bogus case.
During the two instances when the matter came up for hearing before the division bench presided by Justice V M Khanwilkar, the girl was determined to stay with the boy and was not interested in going back to her parents.
However, on October 1, when the matter came up for a final hearing before the division bench of Justice Khanwilkar and Justice P D Kode, the girl did a U-turn and expressed her strong desire to go back to her parents. She informed the court that she would only consider staying with her husband if he converted to Islam.
"Everybody including me, her husband and the court were taken aback by the sudden change in her stance. Accepting what the girl wanted, the court paved the way for her to go back to her parents and also cleared the hurdles for the Jammu police to prosecute her husband on the grounds that he had kidnapped a minor," said their advocate Naveen Chomal.
Advocate Chomal said the boy was heartbroken and deeply disappointed by the sudden turn of events.
"Both me and the boy urged the girl to reconsider her decision," said advocate Chomal.
The justices then called the petitioners to their chamber, along with the girl's father, to further discuss the matter. Waziran alias Prathiba stuck to her stand that she will stay with Daljeet only if he converted to Islam. This happened in the afternoon.
Justice Khanwilkar again called Prathiba for counselling in the evening even though the court had pronounced its order. Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Kode tried to broker an amicable settlement between the newly married couple. When the two Justices talked to Pratibha and tried to make her change her mind, she broke down and expressed her willingness to stay with her husband.
Prathiba then told her father that she didn't want to go back to Jammu. Having saved the couple's marriage by this unprecedented intervention, the court then proceeded to deal with the issue of the girl's age. Her father had produced a school leaving certificate which declared that she was 17 years old, while the birth certificate issued by the Chenani police claimed that she was 19. The court has now directed the air force hospital to ascertain her correct age.
Meanwhile, a new problem has cropped up in connection with this issue. The Jammu and Kashmir police personnel, who have been stationed in Mumbai for nearly a month, have expressed their inability to sustain themselves in the city. The court has directed the Mumbai police commissioner to make suitable arrangements for the JK police team and the girl's family members till October 4, which is the next day of the hearing.