Notice for interfaith marriages no longer mandatory, rules Allahabad HC

This judgement comes in the wake of a ‘love jihad’ ordinance in UP which was purportedly established to mitigate forced conversions.

A Judgement in the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday has ruled that publishing a notice for couples who wanted to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 was no longer mandatory, as reported by LiveLaw.

The court argued that publishing a notice infringed on the person’s fundamental rights of privacy and liberty, adding that it also interfered upon a person’s right to choose who they wanted to marry. 

The court also held that the marriage officer “shall not publish any such notice or entertain objections to the intended marriage and proceed with the solemnisation of the marriage.”  

This judgement comes in the wake of a ‘love jihad’ ordinance in UP which was purportedly established to mitigate forced conversions. However, it has since been weaponised by right-wing groups to abuse and harass interfaith couples who were trying to get married. Some of those vigilante interventions had led to disastrous consequences. The publication of a notice alerted these groups and made those couples a prime target. 

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The judgement comes after a habeas corpus plea filed by an interfaith couple where the woman was not allowed to get married because of her family. The court led by Justice Vivek Chaudhary ruled in their favour adding that state or non-state actors cannot interfere in a person’s freedom to choose a partner. 

As a result, the publication of the notice has become optional and a couple will have to write a written request to the marriage officer if they want a notice to be published.  

Other existing rules of 1954 Act, verification of identity, age, valid consent and competence to marry will still apply.  

The Wire also reported that in recent times the Allahabad HC has come to the rescue of interfaith couples on multiple occasions, as the High Court had granted protection to 125 interfaith couples in the month of November alone.  

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The High Court is also set to hear a plea that challenges the constitutional validity of ‘Love Jihad’ ordinance on January 15. 

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