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Allahabad High Court: Interfaith Couples Can Marry Without Conversion Under Special Marriage Act, 1954

Legal Recognition for Interfaith Marriages Without Religious Conversion

The Allahabad High Court has affirmed that interfaith couples can marry under the Special Marriage Act without converting to each other’s religions.

Justice Jyotsna Sharma emphasized that such marriages do not require religious conversion and are legally recognized under the Special Marriage Act.

Case Details and Court’s Observations

The observation was made by Justice Jyotsna Sharma while providing protection to a live-in couple who faced threats to their life and liberty due to their relationship. The State opposed the couple’s plea, arguing that their claim of marriage through an agreement was not legally valid and therefore, no protection could be granted.

However, the Court dismissed this argument, stating, “Marriage through agreement is definitely invalid in law. However, the law does not prevent the parties from applying for court marriage under the Special Marriage Act, without conversion,” Justice Sharma noted in the order dated May 14.

The couple had informed the Court of their intention to marry under the Special Marriage Act without changing their religion. They submitted that they could not proceed with the marriage registration without protection. The Court recorded their commitment to follow their own faiths and their desire to marry legally.

Court’s Directive for Protection and Legal Steps

The Court ordered the couple to take steps to solemnize their marriage under the Special Marriage Act and provide documentary proof by the next hearing on July 10. “To show their bonafides, by the next date of hearing, the petitioners shall take steps for solemnizing their marriage under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act and file documentary proof thereof with the supplementary affidavit,” the Court directed.

Advocate Shakil Ahmad represented the couple, while Standing Counsel Pramit Kumar Pal represented the State.

Contrasting Ruling by Madhya Pradesh High Court

In contrast, the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently ruled differently in a similar case involving an interfaith couple. The court dismissed the couple’s plea for protection, stating that a marriage under the Special Marriage Act would not be valid if it is prohibited under Muslim personal law. The court noted that, according to Mahomedan law, the marriage of a Muslim boy with an idolatress or a fire-worshipper is not valid, even if registered under the Special Marriage Act. The court labeled such a marriage as irregular (fasid).

This decision, issued on May 27, highlights the differing judicial perspectives on interfaith marriages across different High Courts in India.

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