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Parsi woman allowed to perform last rites, SC informed

Goolrokh, represented by senior advocate Indira Jaising, has been arguing for her right to retain her religious identity, dignity and choice

A Parsi Trust on Thursday informed a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that it will allow a woman, who married a Hindu under the Special Marriage Act, to pray at the Tower of Silence and take part in the ceremonies following the death of her parent.

The five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra took on record a memorandum submitted by the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust, which said that it would allow Goolrokh M. Gupta, the woman concerned, to perform the rites. The Trust said it came to the decision after consulting its high priest and in “deference” to the Supreme Court orders.

The Bench was hearing a challenge by Goolrokh after the Trust barred her entry. Goolrokh, represented by senior advocate Indira Jaising, has been arguing for her right to retain her religious identity, dignity and choice.

In the previous hearing, Chief Justice Misra had orally observed that a woman does not mortgage herself to a man by marrying him and that she retains her identity, including her religious identity, even after she exercises her right to marry outside her community under the Special Marriage Act.

The court had prima facie observed that the Special Marriage Act of 1954 was seen as a statutory alternative for couples who choose to retain their identity in an inter-religious marriage.

The court took on record the memorandum submitted by the Trust through senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, and said this was only being considered as an interim and immediate relief for Goolrokh and her family.

The court said the larger questions of law regarding the religious identity of a Parsi woman and her right to marry outside her religion, among other issues, would remain open and be dealt with in the next hearing scheduled for the third week of January next year.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, is deciding if a Parsi woman can keep her religious identity intact after marrying someone from another faith under the 1954 Act.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 11:39:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parsi-woman-allowed-to-perform-last-rites-sc-informed/article21665528.ece

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