Marriage notice for interfaith couples not mandatory, violates privacy: Allahabad High Court
The compulsory publication of written notice of marriage for interfaith couples will no longer be mandatory from now, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court said on Wednesday in an order. The court ruled that it should be optional rather than mandatory for an interfaith couples to give 30 days’ prior notice to a marriage officer to register their wedding under Special Marriage Act, 1954.
The court said that enforcing such notice period on the couples amounts to invasion of their right to privacy and liberty. It would also affect interfaith couple’s freedom to marriage without interference from state and non-state actors, the court said.
Earlier, under the section of Special Marriage Act, 1954, interfaith couples were required to provide with a written notice of the marriage to District Marriage Officer.
"If the couple does not want to go for publication of the 30-day notice, the marriage officer has to solemnise their wedding forthwith," said Justice Vivek Chaudhary while disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by a Hindu man married to a woman who was born Muslim but converted before the wedding.
Petitioner Abhishek Kumar Pandey alleged that his wife Sufiya Sultana was being held captive by her father because she had converted and got married according to Hindu rituals.
Justice Chaudhary based his judgment on three key observations. First, the law must keep evolving with time and societal change. Second, it should not violate anyone's privacy, a fundamental right underscored in several orders of the Supreme Court. Lastly, when there is no provision of a 30-day notice period to get married under various personal laws, why should this be mandatory under the Special Marriage Act?
The court, however, clarified that the onus would be on the marriage officer to verify the identity, age and valid consent of the couple and their eligibility to marry under the relevant law.
"In case the marriage officer has any doubt, it shall be open for him to ask for appropriate details or proof as per the facts of the case," the court said.
(With inputs from IANS)