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Judiciary

Should Special Marriage Act Provisions Be Followed By The Arya Samaj Temples While Solemnising Marriages? Supreme Court To Consider

By Shilpa Mathew      05 April, 2022 10:10 PM      0 Comments
Should Special Marriage Act Arya Samaj Mandir

On Monday, The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea which challenged the Madhya Pradesh High Court order directing Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, which is an Arya Samaj organisation and has been asked to comply with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 while solemnising marriages. Also, The High Court further held that no one other than the competent authority under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 can issue marriage certificates.

A Bench consisting of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy issued notice and also stayed the operation of the High Court order and the Sabha was directed to amend its Guidelines dated 26th August 2016, by incorporating the provisions of Section 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, within a months' time. The High Court also restrained the Sabha from performing marriages. By way of the Guidelines dated 26th August 2016, the Sabha has directed all the Arya Samaj temples affiliated to it to comply with the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and to strictly follow the procedure laid down therein with respect to the proof of age of the parties and as well as their mutual consent.

Arguments by the Petitioner:


Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared on the behalf of the Sabha argued that by passing the impugned order, the High Court had usurped the jurisdiction of the legislature which does not impose any requirement in the Arya Marriage Validation Act, 1937 and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to solemnise the marriage in terms of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Further, it was submitted that if a marriage so solemnised is between two Hindus then there is no requirement to comply with the prerequisite conditions, like, notice of intended marriage, publication of notice marriage notebook, objection to marriage and the procedure, enumerated in provisions of the Special Marriage Act. Furthermore, such preconditions had been held to be contrary to Arya Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act by the Madhya Pradesh High Court itself in another Writ Appeal.

According to the Section 2(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, it applies to any person who is a Hindu by religion and in any of its forms or developments including Arya Samaj. It was also argued that the order of the High Court is incongruous with the principles envisaged in Articles 14, 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. Apart from violating the right to freely practice its religion, the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction in interfering with rights of a religious denomination to conduct its own religious affairs.

BACKGROUND

On 13th May 2013, an adult Hindu girl whose marriage was solemnised at the Arya Samaj Mandir moved a Habeas Corpus petition before the High Court for protection from her husband. Therefore, the Madhya Pradesh High Court extended protection by directing the Arya Samaj Temples to provide prior intimation to the parents of the bride, the groom and the concerned police station and collect in advance the presence of five friends and relatives each, etc. In the said petition, the Sabha was not made a party. On 30th October 2013, the Sabha filed an appeal, which challenged the order of the Single Judge and which was allowed on the ground that the it was not made a party and that the order of the Single Judge was not in consonance with the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. As it was not challenged further, the order had attained finality. On 26th August 2016, the Sabha issued guidelines for the Arya Samaj temples reinstating adherence to the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

On 13th October 2016, another Habeas Corpus petition was filed and the Sabha was directed by the High Court to follow the pre-requisite conditions as provided in the Special Marriage Act, 1954 while solemnising marriages. On the appeal, the order of the Single Judge was set aside and no further appeals were preferred by the parties.

The present round of litigation arises from a Writ Petition, which was filed by a couple who got allegedly married in a ceremony solemnised by a Samiti, which the Sabha claimed was not affiliated to it. On 9th December 2020 an order passed by the High Court directed the Sabha to amend its guidelines to incorporate specific provisions of the Special Marriage Act,1954. The Sabha preferred a review, wherein stay was granted in the order passed by the Single Judge. During the pendency of the appeal and as the interim stay was in force, a Writ Appeal was filed by the Samiti assailing the order dated 9th December 2020. Many a times, the High Court adjourned the matter as the review was pending. But, on 17th December 2021, it dismissed the appeal upholding the order of the Single Judge which was dated 9th December 2020, against which the present Special Leave Petition was filed.

The Advocate-on-Record Vanshaja Shukla filed the SLP before the Supreme Court.

The Case title is Secretary, Madhya Pradesh Arya Pratinidhi Sabha v. State of Madhya Pradesh And Others.



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