SC remains order MP HC
New Delhi: On Monday, the Supreme Court accepted a prima facie view from an Arya Samaj organization that marriages performed in the Arya Samaj tradition do not need to be registered under the Special Marriage Act (SMA ) of 1954. The court stayed a 2020 order of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (HC). order the agency to change its guidelines in accordance with the Act.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by the Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, which has jurisdiction over all Arya Samaj temples in Madhya Pradesh.
In his petition — who questioned a 2020 HC order that directed him to change his Arya Samaj Marriage Registration Guidelines in line with the SMA — the Sabha has stated that with regard to Arya Samaj marriage, the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) of 1955 and the Arya Marriage Act Validation Act (AMA), 1937, hold ground.
Appearing for the Sabha, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan and Advocate Vanshaja Shukla argued that the HC erred in transgressing in the realm of the legislature — he had ordered the petitioner to abide by the provisions of the SMA and perform all marriages performed at Arya Samaj temples in the state under the Special Marriage Act, while no such requirement was been imposed by the legislator.
The genesis of the case lies in a petition filed by an inter-caste couple on the run before the HC in early 2020. The couple had stated in their petition that they had married according to the Arya Samaj tradition, and approached the court to seek instructions from the HC. State to grant them protection.
Prior to the HC, the Sabha had denied the couple’s claim that theirs was an Arya Samaj wedding, and said the organization that helped them get married was unrelated to the Sabha.
However, the single bench in December 2020 gave specific instructions to the Sabha to modify its guidelines to incorporate sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the SMA. — which cite prerequisites such as notification of the marriage plan, publication of the notification, maintenance of a marriage record, opposition to the marriage and the procedure — within one month.
In December 2021, a panel of two judges upheld the 2020 verdict and further ordered that marriage certificates must be issued by a competent authority in accordance with the SMA.
Such a direction, the Sabha argued, takes away the power to issue marriage certificates to Arya Samaj temples.
The SC Bench, headed by Judge KM Joseph, not only suspended the execution of the HC Judgment, but also issued an opinion in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
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Sabha guidelines have “inherent safeguards”
During the hearing, the lawyer for the Sabha argued that unlike the SMA, the AMA and the HMA do not have any preconditions for the solemnization of a marriage between two Arya Samajis.
However, the Sabha’s guidelines on marriage carry inherent safeguards, they added, adding that when performing marriages, Sabha-affiliated Arya Samaj temples strictly follow procedure with regard to proof of marriage. age of the parties and their mutual consent.
Arguing for the quashing of the impugned judgment, the Sabha said the HC did not appreciate the legislative regime of the AMA and HMA. The AMA does not invalidate a marriage if the parties belong to different castes or sub-castes of Hindus, or if both parties at any time before the marriage belonged to a religion other than Hinduism, the lawyer said of the petitioner.
HC order ‘violates’ Sabha’s rights under Constitution
The HC judgment violates the rights of the Sabha enshrined in the Constitution, particularly Articles 25 and 26, which protect the rights of a religious denomination to conduct its own religious affairs, the lawyer argued.
Further, he said that the HC mistakenly assimilated marriage certificates issued by Arya Samaj Temples and the competent authority under the SMA.
The certificate issued by the temple is a mere acknowledgment that the two individuals were married in the presence of authorized persons of the petitioner and has no intention whatsoever of being recognized as a certificate under the SMA, a said the lawyer.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
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