Mandate of 30 days’ notice under Special Marriage Act optional: Allahabad HC

Lucknow, January 13  

In a judgment that is likely to bring relief to inter faith couples, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday declared as optional the mandatory publication of notice of intended marriages under the Special Marriage Act, saying it violated the Right To Privacy.

Making such publication mandatory would invade in the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy, the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court said.

It would also affect the couple’s freedom to choose marriage “without interference from state and non-state actors”, Justice Vivek Chaudhary said.

He said it shall be optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the marriage officer to publish or not to publish such a notice.

If the couple did not intend so, the marriage officer has to solemnise their marriage forthwith without publication of 30 days notice, the court said.

A section of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, requires an inter-faith couple to give written notice of the marriage to the district marriage officer.

The court was considering a habeas corpus petition alleging that an adult girl is being detained against her wishes to marry her lover who belongs to a different religion.

The judgment comes against the backdrop of a recent controversial law enacted by the Uttar Pradesh government which prohibits forcible conversion for the sake of marriage.           

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, prohibits conversion of religion by marriage to be unlawful. — PTI

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