Modify Court Marriage Check List To Promote Inter-Religion Marriages Instead Of Hampering Them: Punjab & Haryana HC To State [Read Judgment]

Modify Court Marriage Check List To Promote Inter-Religion Marriages Instead Of Hampering Them: Punjab & Haryana HC To State [Read Judgment]

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Haryana Government to suitably amend the Court Marriage Check List (CMCL), which lists down sixteen conditions to be complied with by couples seeking to tie the knot under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Opining that the current list hampers interfaith marriages instead of promoting them, Justice Rajiv Narain Raina directed, “Is is suggested to the State of Haryana to suitably modify and simplify the CMCL to bring it in line with the Act by minimal executive interference. It may restrict the list to conditions which account for the fundamental procedure avoiding unwarranted overload of obstructions and superfluity. 

The State is not concerned with the marriage itself but with the procedure it adopts which must reflect the mind-set of the changed times in a secular nation promoting inter-religion marriages instead of the officialdom raising eyebrows and laying snares and landmines beneath the sacrosanct feet of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 enacted in free India to cover cases not covered by any other legislation on marriages as per choice of parties for a court marriage.”

The Court was hearing a petition filed by an interfaith couple who wanted to marry, but sought a direction to the Marriage Officer, Gurugram to desist sending notices of the intended marriage to their parents and publishing proposed marriage in a National newspaper. The girl had submitted that she is a Hindu who was facing virulent opposition to the proposed marriage from her parents, and hence, wanted to do away with this procedure. She had essentially asserted that this impinged upon her right to privacy.

Conditions such as sending of a notice to the houses of the applicants and barring the applicants from staying together at the time of applying were contended by the petitioners to be “offensive, insensitive, arbitrary, primitive and out of sync with rapidly changing social order in an inter-faith proposed marriage”. They had further submitted that the list violates privacy rights, and is beyond the scope of the Act. They had in fact asserted that some of the conditions amounted to active moral policing.

Agreeing with such contentions, the Court observed, “In the considered view of this Court the CMCL, except as indicated below, deserves to be disregarded as its terms and conditions largely violate the rights to privacy of the petitioners which is now declared fundamental right. The provisions appear particularly offensive and excessive executive action beyond the purview of the Act and have, therefore, to be ignored…”

It however clarified that the provision to ascertain residence/domicile of the parties to confer jurisdiction on the Marriage Officer would still stand, subject to the modification that temporary residence proof would suffice as well if they have stayed there for 30 days prior to the filing of the application. Further, the condition for the marriage to be solemnised within 3 months from the date of notice to the marriage officer has also been directed to be obeyed, as it has statutory backing. However, the condition to send advance notice to the couple’s parents was directed to be dispensed with.

The petition was therefore allowed, with a direction to the District Marriage Officer, Gurugram to consider and process the request for solemnization of marriage of the petitioners after a notice of the intended marriage is filed by them in the proper Form under the Act.

Read the Judgment Here