THE DELHI High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Centre and Delhi government, seeking their response to a petition challenging provisions requiring authorities to issue a 30-day public notice for the invitation of objections before registering a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
The division bench issued the notice to the authorities for November 27 after hearing the petition filed by an inter-faith couple, who said they stand directly affected and aggrieved by the procedure for registering the marriages under Sections 6 and 7 of the Act. Appearing to the petitioners, Advocate Utkarsh Singh argued that the entire idea behind inviting objections for 30 days discourages inter-faith marriages.
Under the Act, any person, within a period of 30 days from the date of publication of notice by the marriage officer, can object to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more conditions mentioned in the law. The conditions include that neither party has a spouse living, neither is incapable of giving a valid consent in consequence of unsoundness of mind or has been suffering from mental disorder of such kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children or has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity. The male has to be at least 21 years old and the woman has to have completed 18 years of age.
The couple who have filed the petition have been in a relationship since 2011 and their parents are against their marriage. The 26-year-old Muslim woman and the 28-year-old Hindu man want to marry on their own but at the same time they want to practice their religion too and thus want to solemnise the marriage under the Special Marriage Act, the plea states. However, it adds that they are under fear of the consequences which may arise due to the 30-day notice period.
Questioning the requirement for issuance of notice for 30 days, advocate Singh said the condition of mental state can be ascertained on the basis of certificate from a government hospital and the other condition pertaining to age can also be verified with help of a government certificate. It was also argued that the Law Commission has urged a reduction of the period to bring the procedure in line with all other personal laws.
The petition states, “The 30-days period offers an opportunity to kin of the couple to discourage an inter-caste or an inter-religion marriage and it is of paramount importance in the current scenario that couples opting into cross-community marriages are adequately protected.”
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