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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Special Marriage Act: Implement Allahabad HC order in Maharashtra, activists write to Kunte

Recently, a woman approached the Khar police saying she was getting married to a person from another religion, and after learning about her marriage, few men allegedly humiliated her parents.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: July 16, 2021 11:05:38 am
Religion aside, caste, class and patriarchy ensure that most Indians aren’t free to choose who they marryA majority of Indians do not prefer inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

A group of social activists has written to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte to implement in the state an order of the Allahabad High Court, which states it would be optional and not mandatory for a couple getting married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to publish a notice about their intended marriage 30 days before it is solemnized.

Recently, a woman from Khar (West) approached the Khar police saying she was getting married to a person from another religion, and after learning about her marriage, few unknown men allegedly entered her housing society and humiliated her parents in front of their neighbour.

Some days prior to the incident, the woman and her partner had gone to the registrar of marriage office in Khar (West) to register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act. They suspect their personal information was leaked from the office after their notice was published on a board there and on the government website.

The Khar police has promised to ensure no further harassment to the couple or their families. Vasant Pingle, Assistant Commissioner of Police of Khar Police Station told The Indian Express, “We have warned the men not to bother the woman’s family. We have also provided the woman with the number of our police officer in case she faces any further trouble.”

In order to ensure such incidents do not repeat in future, two organisations — the Citizens of Justice and Peace (CJP), a human rights movement, and Dhanak of Humanity, a non-profit organisation founded by interfaith couples — have written a letter to Kunte asking him to ensure that the January 8, 2021 order of the Allahabad HC is implemented.

On behalf of CJP, activist Teesta Setalvad told The Indian Express, “We first took up the issue in January by writing a letter to then chief secretary Sanjay Kumar, but no action was taken. After this incident, we wrote to Kunte on July 14 asking him to implement the Allahabad HC order in the matter of Safiya Sultana v. State of Uttar Pradesh [Habeas Corpus No. – 16907], delivered on January 12, 2021, by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court, in response to a habeas corpus writ petition which contended that the requirement to publish a notice of intended marriage for 30 days as well as the ability of any person to object to the intended union as stated by Sections 5, 6 and 7 of The Special Marriage Act, 1954, respectively, was an invasion of privacy and would cause unnecessary social pressure/interference in their free choice with regard to their marriage.”

Setalvad added, “It is also important to note that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Kusum Ingots & Alloys v. Union of India [(2004) 6 SCC 254] mandated that ‘an order passed on a writ petition questioning the constitutionality of a parliamentary Act, whether interim or final keeping in view the provisions contained in clause (2) of Article 226 of the Constitution of India, will have effect throughout the territory of India subject of course to the applicability of the Act’.”

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