SC to review if Special Marriage Act violates couples’ privacy

by Times of India

NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court

on Wednesday agreed to examine the validity of certain provisions of the 66-year-old Special Marriage Act by entertaining a PIL which said the statutory mandate to make public the

personal details

of a prospective bride and groom by pasting them on the notice board of the marriage officer violated right to privacy, which is part of right to life.

Under the Special Marriage Act, enacted to give legal protection to inter-faith, inter-caste and inter-community marriages, a couple wanting to get married has to make an application 30 days before the intended date of marriage to the marriage officer, giving details about their age, parents and place of residence. The

law

mandates the marriage officer to put these details up on a notice board to invite objections to the alliance.

Appearing for law student-petitioner Nandini Praveen, senior advocate Kaleeswaram Raj told a bench of Justices S A Bobde, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian that the SM Act’s mandate of revealing personal details of the prospective marriage partners failed the triple test of legality, legitimacy and proportionality laid down by the nine-judge bench’s right to privacy judgment.

The petitioner also said making personal details public played into the hands of blood-thirsty relatives who did not flinch in committing honour killing in cases of inter-caste, inter-community or inter-faith marriages.

The bench said though the petitioner had a valid argument, there was a flip side to it. “For example, if one or both persons intending to get married have run away from their respective spouses, should it be kept secret by the marriage officer, who has an obligation under law to inquire into the legitimacy of the alliance by inviting objections from the public by putting up the information on the notice board? The moment that provision is deleted, it could lead to abuse of existing marriages. You must also suggest a solution,” it said.

The counsel said the petitioner was not averse to the marriage officer carrying out inquiries before solemnising the marriage under the

Special Marriage Act, 1954

.

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