New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Terming it as a violation of Right to Privacy, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday declared the mandatory publication of notice of intended marriages under the Special Marriage Act as optional. The judgement came as a relief for interfaith couples seeking marriage.

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, announcing the judgment, said that 'making such publication mandatory would invade in the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy of a citizen of India' and declared that the 30 days' notice prior to the marriage of any interfaith couple would be optional.

Justice Vivek Chaudhary of the single-judge Lucknow Bench said that the mandatory notice would also affect the couple's freedom to choose marriage "without interference from state and non-state actors". 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 further ordered. The court, however, clarified that it would be open for the marriage officer to verify the identification, age and valid consent of the parties or otherwise their competence to marry under the Act.

Interpreting various pronouncements of the Supreme Court, the high court concluded that forcing the intending couple to publish the said notice infringed upon their fundamental rights of personal liberty and privacy. 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 judgement 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. Under the law, which deals with different categories of offences, a marriage will be declared "null and void" if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose. The onus to prove that the conversion has not been done forcibly will lie on the accused and the convert.

(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta