Plea in SC challenges provisions of special marriage law

The plea has challenged validity of the provision which requires two adults to put personal details in public domain for scrutiny before their marriage.

Published: 03rd September 2020 08:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2020 08:53 PM   |  A+A-

Wedding, marriage

For representational purposes


NEW DELHI: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday challenging validity of some provisions of the Special Marriage Act saying they require two adults to put personal details in public domain for scrutiny before their marriage and they have a chilling effect on fundamental right to marry and privacy.

"Publication of personal details often might have a chilling effect on the right to marry. In other words, couples are asked to waive the right to privacy to exercise the right to marry. This infringes the rights of autonomy, dignity and the right to marry, of various couple," said the PIL filed by Nandini Praveen, a Kerala-based law student.

"This writ petition is challenging certain provisions of the Special Marriage Act for those violate the fundamental rights of the citizens under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

The impugned provisions require the parties to the marriage to publish their private details, open for public scrutiny, before 30 days of intended marriage.

The provisions also allow anyone to submit objections to the marriage and empower the Marriage Officer to inquire into such objections," the plea said.

'These provisions violate the fundamental rights of couple intending to marry, depriving of their right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution, it said.

"The requirement of notice before marriage is absent in the Hindu Marriage Act and customary laws in Islam.

Therefore, the said provision is also discriminatory and violative of Article 14 (right to equality),"  it said.

The plea sought striking down of  sections including 6(2), 7, 8 and 10 of the Special Marriage Act as "unjust, illegal and unconstitutional".

It said one of the provisions required that "Marriage Officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place, which is violative of fundamental right to privacy and equality.

"The right to privacy is held to be an aspect of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, as reiterated in many judgments (including Aadhaar verdict) this court has held that informational privacy needs to be protected as a facet of privacy right," it said.

The provisions throwing the personal information of the individuals open to public scrutiny, seriously damage one's right to have control over her or his personal information and its accessibility, it said.

The plea referred to the provisions and the alleged illegality attached to them.

"Section 5 of the (Act) requires that a notice of intended marriage to be given by the parties to the marriage to the Marriage Officer of the district where at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given," it said.

Section 6 mandates that all such notices received shall be entered in the marriage notice book and the Marriage Officer shall publish a notice by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office, it said.

As per Section 6(3), if the parties do not permanently reside within the jurisdiction of the officer who received the notice, a copy shall be transmitted to cause its publication in the relevant marriage office, the plea said.

 "Publishing details of notice of marriage by the marriage officers include the details of the parties like names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents' names and details, address, pin code, identity information, phone number etc. This is a peculiar requirement of the Act," it said.


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