HC rejects plea for order to register inter-faith marriage

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court dismissed the petition filed by a man from Virudhunagar district seeking a direction to the Sub-Registrar to register his marriage with a woman of different faith.

The petitioner, S. Sarath Kumar, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, married Lediya, a Christian, on June 10, with the approval of their families. Subsequently, the couple submitted an application to the Sub-Registrar on June 17. However, they were told that their marriage could not registered. Hence, Sarath Kumar filed the present petition.

Hearing the petition, Justice G.R. Swaminathan, observed that Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act laid the conditions and Section 5 stipulated that the parties to the marriage should give notice in the prescribed form. The marriage officer should enter the notices in the Marriage Notice Book left open for inspection.

Further, the court said any person could lodge an objection to the marriage within 30 days if the conditions specified in Section 4 had been contravened. Sections 8 to 10 dealt with the procedure on receipt of objection.

Section 15 excluded marriages solemnised under the Act and it dealt only with marriages celebrated in other forms. The petitioner was a Hindu and Lediya a Christian. They underwent what was apparently self-respect marriage, the judge said.

However, Section 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act dealing with such marriages could have no application here. The said provision was introduced in 1967 to confer recognition to marriages held without religious ceremonies.

A sacramental marriage performed following ceremonies and a marriage celebrated in terms of Section 7-A were valid. However, ‘Suyamariyathai’ and ‘Seerthirutha’ marriages could be performed only between two Hindus. The reformist zeal of the legislature stopped with tinkering the institution of Hindu marriage and did not venture beyond, the court said.

Therefore, what was performed between the petitioner and Lediya could not be considered as one solemnised under the Hindu Marriage Act.

According to the petitioner, the marriage was performed on June 10. Only thereafter, notice was given under Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act. Giving notice under Section 5 was the first step. But, only after performing the so-called marriage, the couple had given the notice.

The petitioner did not marry Lediya under the Special Marriage Act. Hence, he could not avail himself of the benefit set out in Section 4 of the Act, the judge said and dismissed the petition.

However, considering the plight of the young couple, the judge observed: “My role now metamorphoses from that of an adjudicator to an adviser. The petitioner and Lediya did not undergo any marriage in the legal sense... Nothing stops them from solemnising their marriage under the Special Marriage Act.”

The petitioner has given notice under Section 5 of the Act on June 17. The notice would be valid for three months. He could very well follow the procedure set out in the Act. In that event, the Sub-Registrar could not refuse to issue marriage certificate, the court said.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 3:42:39 pm |