The Gujarat High Court has ordered the immediate release of an interfaith couple from Banaskantha district who were illegally detained from Kerala while they were on their honeymoon, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

A division bench led by Justice Sonia Gokani on Tuesday recorded the public prosecutor’s assurance that the couple, who now want to live in Surat, will be granted police protection “initially for a period of four weeks” by the city police commissioner. The commissioner was also asked by the court to take a call on whether the couple required security beyond the initial period of 28 days.

The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the brother of the 30-year old Muslim man, stating that the latter was illegally detained, arrested and remanded to police custody, following his marriage to his 29-year-old childhood friend who is a Hindu.

The couple got married on December 30 at a temple in Rajasthan’s Abu Road, and had subsequently travelled to Kerala for their honeymoon. But in the first week of January, the Gujarat Police went to Kerala, and brought the couple back to Palanpur, after the woman’s father alleged that she had married against his wishes.

On January 9, the two were separated from each other, and were illegally detained at different police stations. They were formally arrested on January 15 when a First Information Report was lodged against them on the basis of a complaint by the woman’s father.

In the complaint, which was filed at the East Palanpur station, the father alleged that his daughter stole Rs 82,000 from the family’s residence before she ran away, “married fraudulently”, and obtained a fake marriage certificate, according to The Indian Express.

He also accused the Muslim man of converting to Hinduism before marriage in violation of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003, reported The Times of India. The state’s anti-conversion law states that anyone who wants to convert has to obtain prior permission from the collector.

Nine days later, the investigator produced the husband in front of a local court, seeking a 14-day remand for custodial interrogation. The court granted the police custody for four days from January 18 to January 22.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the Gujarat High Court quashed and set aside the four-day remand order. The court directed the range inspector general of the jurisdiction concerned to look into the matter, and particularly, the police inspectors of Palanpur East and West police stations, “in whose custody, the couple has been detained for all these days”. A report on the same will be submitted to the Palanpur Deputy Inspector General of Police, the bench said.

The High Court also expressed its dissatisfaction with the police for showing “undue fervour” by travelling all the way to Kerala to take a consensually married couple into custody. It added, “While conducting such inquiry, the Range IG concerned shall bear in mind that this is the case where undue fervour is shown on account of this being an inter-religion marriage.”

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