Special marriage act: Petitions filed against the 30-day notice for marriage under the Special Marriage Act in the Court are now addressed by the Centre.
The petitioners who are an inter-faith couple who had to wait for the 30 day notice period to be over before getting married. The same provision is not laid out for the same faith marriage. The petition was represented by Advocate Utkarsh Singh who contended the notice period particularly discourages inter-faith marriages.
What is the Special Marriages Act?
The Special Marriage Act, 1954, commonly known as registered marriage, is a provision in the Indian Constitution for civil marriage. This allows the citizens of India residing in the country or abroad to get married irrespective of their religion, caste, etc.
What was the central government’s reply?
While this petition is taken up by the Delhi High Court, the Centre has replied saying that the notice period in special marriage act is ‘fair and reasonable’.
This submission has been made by the Ministry of Law and Justice in front of the bench consisting of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh. The bench had issued a notice to the Ministry of Law and the Delhi Government in October last year to seek their stand on the matter.
The Ministry has claimed that “If any person raises an objection to the said marriage (under SMA) within a period of 30 days, the marriage officer shall not solemnise the marriage until he enquires into the matter of objection. It may not be possible to verify the credibility of such a person if at least thirty days period is not given as mentioned in section 7 of the Act.”
Further, the ministry has justified this by stating that the act “is to keep adequate safeguards” and to keep the interest of all the parties safe.
The petition has also made a claim challenging the fairness of the Special Marriage Act. As they questioned why there is a provision to raise an objection of a living spouse of either of the parties in an interfaith marriage and not same faith marriages.
Where does the law stand now?
The Allahabad High Court in January had passed a judgement according to which inter-faith couple hold the right to not publish their notice of marriage. While the court did not make the provision null and void it ruled that the marriage officer cannot make the notice public if not asked to do so by the couple.
During the 30 day period after filing the notice of marriage, there can be objections raised to the union. Justice Vivek Chaudhary who gave the ruling said that making the notice public will harm the right to freedom and privacy of the concerned parties. Read more about the judgement here.