- The law that governs inter-faith marriages in the country, the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954,is being challenged for endangering the lives of young couples who seek refuge under it.
- More than a year after a writ petition was moved before the Supreme Court, seeking striking down of several of its provisions, the government is yet to submit its response.
- The petition has sought to quash section 6 and 7 of SMA, which mandates publication of the public notice, on the ground that it is unreasonable and arbitrary.
- The petitioner argues that the 30-day period offers an opportunity to kin of the couple to discourage an inter-caste or inter-religion marriage.
Special Marriage Act 1954
- The SMA is a law which allows solemnization of marriages without going through any religious customs or rituals.
- People from different castes or religions or states get married under SMA in which marriage is solemnized by way of registration.
- The prime purpose of the Act was to address Inter-religious marriages and to establish marriage as a secular institution bereft of all religious formalities, which required registration alone.
- One of the parties to the marriage has to give a notice of the intended marriage to the marriage officer of the district where at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for at least 30 days immediately prior to the date on which such notice is given.
- Such notice is then entered in the marriage notice book and the marriage officer publishes a notice of marriage at some conspicuous place in his office.
- The notice of marriage published by the marriage officer includes details of the parties like names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents’ names and details, address, pin code, identity information, phone number etc.
- Anybody can then raise objections to the marriage on various grounds provided under the Act. If no objection is raised within the 30 day period, then marriage can be solemnized. If objections are raised, then the marriage officer has to inquire into the objections after which he will decide whether or not to solemnize the marriage.
- Vulnerable to coercive tactics by family.
- Intrusion of privacy.
- Pushes for religious conversion.
Source: THE HINDU.