Publishing of Marriage Notices Violates Privacy of Couples

‘Publishing of Marriage Notices Violates Privacy of Couples’: Law Student’s PIL In SC Challenges Constitutionality of Special Marriage Act Provisions.

A writ petition was filed before the Apex Court by a Law Student, who challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of Special Marriage Act, 1954, which requires Marriage Officer to publish copies of Marriage notices submitted to him by the couples who are intending to marry under the Act.

Nandini Praveen opposed that these provisions would violate the Article 14 (Right to equality), Article 19 (Freedom of expression) and Article 21 (Right to privacy) of the couples.

Usually marriage under Special Marriage Act is opted by inter faith couples. As per Section 5 of the Act, the parties who plan to marry under this Act shall give a notice in writing in specified form to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than 30 days immediately preceding the dates on which such notice was given.

According to Section 6 of the Act, the marriage officer is then required to keep all such notices with the records of his office and enter a true copy of every such notice in the ‘Marriage Notice Book’. And such book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without charging any fee, by any person who desirous of inspecting the same. The marriage office is also expected to cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office.

If either of the party to the marriage is not permanently residing within the local limits of the district of the marriage officer , he shall also cause a copy of such notice to be transmitted to the marriage officer of the district within whose limits such party is permanently residing, and that marriage officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office. An objection can be raised by any person before the expiration of 30 days of publishing such notice against the marriage. On such objection, the Marriage Officer can proceed to reject them or uphold them.

The petitioner contends that subjecting the couples marrying under the Special Marriage Act to a requirement of causing publication of their details, and not subjecting the couples to marry under Hindu Marriage Act and Islamic Law would violate the right to equality under Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution. Publication of personal information of parties to marriage can violate the privacy of individuals and the same is an encroachment to the lives of the parties involved in the procedure, the petitioner said by relying on Puttuswamy judgement.

These provisions would have stringent impact on the interfaith couples and also the limitations imposed upon by the Act would violate the fundamental choice of the couples, the petitioner contends referring to observations made in Navtej Singh Johar judgement. The petitioner further highlighted that publication of such personal details will have discouraging effect on right to marry.

The “unwarranted disclosure of matrimonial plans by two adults entitled to solemnize it may, in certain situations, jeopardize the marriage itself, referring the Delhi High Court Judgement in Pranav Kumar Mishra V. Govt of NCT. Of Delhi, by the petitioner. In certain instances, it may also endanger the life or limb of one at the other party due to parental interference.”

The counsel appearing for the petitioner were Advocate on record Nishe Rajen Shonker and Advocate Kaleeshwaram Raj.

Kerala Government Have Stopped The Uploading of Scanned Marriage Notices.

As complaints were registered for the misuse of personal information contained in “Marriage Notices” published in the Registration Department’s Website, a notice has been issued by the Kerala Government in order to stop the practice of uploading scanned copies of ‘Notices of Intended Marriage’ submitted to the Sub Registrar Offices.

Credit: Chitra

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