Delhi HC issues notice to the Centre in a petition challenging the public notice provision in the Special Marriages Act

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the Central Government in a petition by an inter-faith couple challenging the provision of issuing a public notice to invite objections to marriages under the Special Marriage Act (SMA).

A division bench of the Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan directed the Centre to file its reply.

The petition filed by Nida Rehman challenged Section 6 and 7 of the Special Marriage Act which provides for publication of a marriage notice and inviting objection thereto from any person.

The petition contended that some of the objections, like unsoundness of mind of either party or their not having attained the age of marriage, that could be raised under section 4 of the Act “can be ascertained on the basis of certificates issued from a government hospital or any prescribed authority”.

It also contended that the 30-day notice period inviting objections to the marriage directly impinged on the fundamental rights of the petitioners.

“The procedure of issuance of public notice for 30 days inviting objections to the marriage, which is wholly a private affair is a clear breach of privacy of the persons applying for marriage. It also jeopardizes the life and liberty of marrying parties”, the petitioners said.

The plea also asserted that Section 6 and 7 of the Special Marriage Act was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as similar provisions for inviting objections from the public was not available in the Hindu Marriage Act or under Muslim personal laws.

The petitioner also claimed that the 30-day period offered an opportunity to the kin of the couple to discourage an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage.

Advocate Utkarsh Singh represented the petitioners before the high court.

The Leaflet