The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday asserted the right of a woman to choose her partner, observing that a “girl is not cattle or a non-living thing” but an independent soul who has the freedom to exercise her discretion according to her wishes, Live Law reported.

A bench of Justice Vivek Thakur was hearing a petition in which a man, named Sanjeev Kumar, alleged that the family of a woman, Komal Parmar, had detained her against her wishes to prevent their marriage.

Kumar in his petition, submitted that the only reason behind Parmar’s “illegal detention” was because her family considered that he belonged to a lower caste. He sought that the court asks Parmar’s family to produce her before it and direct the state to provide the couple “appropriate security”, Live Law reported.

During the hearing, Parmar endorsed Kumar’s contention that she was abducted and detained by her family, friends and villagers because of Kumar’s “lower caste”. She also said that her father’s submission to the court that she was “mentally weak” and that Kumar was not financially stable, were nothing but attempts to prevent their marriage.

The court observed that denying the right to choose spouse on the basis of caste was in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It further cited references from mythological and holy texts of the Hindu community suggesting that caste discrimination does not have place in them.

“Discrimination on the basis of caste sometimes is propounded on the basis of some Smritis and Puranas, forgetting the basic principle that the highest source of religious norms are Vedas and anything in any other religious texts, which is contrary to the principles propounded in Vedas, is to be considered ultra vires to Vedas...and therefore is to be discarded,” the court said.

It also gave examples of marriage of Hindu god Shiva and Sati and that of Krishna and Rukmani, where family members were opposed to the relationship.

In its order, the Himachal Pradesh High Court directed the police superintendents of Shimla and Hamirpur cities and other authorities to escort Parmar to where she wanted to go. However, no action was initiated against family members of Parmar, as she did not want any such thing , according to Live Law.