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The court made the observations Monday, as it detailed its 8 March order restoring the marriage of Hadiya, the Kerala woman taken to court by her father for marrying a Muslim man and converting to Islam.

New Delhi: Not just freedom of religion, the Constitution guarantees Indians the right to dress, eat and love as they wish, the Supreme Court has said, adding that the judiciary must protect these liberties.

The court made the observations Monday, as it detailed its 8 March order restoring the marriage of Hadiya, the Kerala woman who became the face of the ‘love jihad’ row after her father took her to court for converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim man. Setting aside the Kerala High Court order annulling their marriage in March, the Supreme Court had said it would issue its detailed order on the matter later.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud made several vital observations on life and choice as it pronounced the order.

On choice of dress, food, life partner

“Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership, are within the central aspects of identity. The law may regulate (subject to constitutional compliance) the conditions of a valid marriage, as it may regulate the situations in which a marital tie can be ended or annulled.”

On matters of belief

“Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty. The Constitution exists for believers as well as for agnostics. The Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he seeks to adhere.”

On decision to marry by choice

“The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away, except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable. Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness.”

Significance of diversity in India

“The strength of our Constitution lies in its acceptance of the plurality and diversity of our culture. Courts as upholders of constitutional freedoms must safeguard these freedoms. The cohesion and stability of our society depend on our syncretic culture. The Constitution protects it. Courts are duty-bound not to swerve from the path of upholding our pluralism and diversity as a nation.”

On matters of happiness

“Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness… Nothing can be as destructive of freedom and liberty. Fear silences freedom.”

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