Updated: April 5, 2022 9:42:36 am
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Madhya Pradesh High Court order that directed the Arya Samaj to solemnise marriages in accordance with provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Hearing a plea filed by the Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, the nodal body of the sect’s temples in Madhya Pradesh, a bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy also issued a notice to the State of Madhya Pradesh.
The Sabha’s SC petition has challenged a division bench order of the Madhya Pradesh HC, which had, on December 17, 2021, upheld a single-judge verdict directing the sect to amend its 2016 guidelines and incorporate, within a month, the provisions of Sections 5.6.7 and 8 of the Special Marriage Act. The HC had also ruled that marriage certificates could be issued only by a competent authority under the Special Marriage Act.
In its guidelines issued in August, 2016, the Sabha had asked all Arya Samaj temples affiliated to it to comply with the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, while solemnising marriages and also follow strictly the procedure with respect to the proof of age of the parties and their mutual consent.
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The HC’s single-judge order in December, 2019, had come after a couple, Shalu Sharma and Pradeep Rana, sought protection to their lives. Their marriage had been solemnised at a “self-styled Arya Samaj” temple, the ‘Arya Mool Shankar Samaj Samiti’. It was the Arya Mool Shankar Samaj Samiti that had appealed against the single-judge decision only to be upheld by the division bench.
In its petition in the Supreme Court, the Sabha has said the Samiti was not affiliated to it and that the High Court had transgressed into the domain of the Legislature.
It informed the top court that in respect of Arya Samaj marriages it is the Hindu Marriage Act and the Arya Marriage Act, 1937, that hold the field, and not the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Appearing for the Sabha, senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate Vanshaja Shukla said since its founding by social reformer Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the Arya Samaj has been fighting against the caste system and solemnising inter-caste marriages in its temples.
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