Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage

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Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage

Source: The post Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage has been created, based on the article “High Court’s take on Marriage Act, an erosion of rights” published in “The Hindu” on 17th June 2024 

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1- Society – Salient Features 

Context: The article discusses a problematic order from the Madhya Pradesh High Court. This order misinterprets the law on inter-faith marriages, questioning the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The court denied police protection to an unmarried Hindu-Muslim couple, contrary to established legal principle. Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage

For detailed information on Impact of misinterpretation of the Special Marriage Act read this article here 

What is the Madhya Pradesh High Court order on an inter-faith marriage?

1. The Madhya Pradesh High Court questioned the validity of an inter-faith marriage between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The court denied police protection to the unmarried couple.

2. The decision reversed gains in the right to choose a partner. It ignored the main objectives of the Special Marriage Act, which aims to provide a legal way for inter-faith marriages.

3. The decision neglected the couple’s right to protection under Article 21 of the Constitution.

What contradicts the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s approach?

1. High Courts usually protect the rights of petitioners in inter-faith and inter-caste marriages under Article 226 of the Constitution. Even unmarried couples often receive protection due to societal threats.

2. In Shafin Jahan vs. Asokan K.M. (2018), the Supreme Court emphasized that marriage is a personal choice protected by privacy. Social approval is not required for recognizing such decisions.

3. The Madras High Court granted police protection to a lesbian couple, recognizing the dangers they faced.

4. The Punjab and Haryana High Court protected a live-in couple, emphasizing their fundamental rights under Article 21, not the legality of their relationship. 

5.The Madhya Pradesh High Court used a Supreme Court case on property succession, which was irrelevant to the issue of marriage validity or police protection. 

How does the order affect the Special Marriage Act?

1. Misinterprets Section 4: The court wrongly applied Section 4, which only prohibits marriages within certain degrees of relationship.

2. Uses Irrelevant Precedent: The court referenced the Mohammed Salim vs. Shamsudeen case, which deals with property succession under Mohammedan Laws, not inter-faith marriage validity.

Why is this order significant in today’s context?

1. Vigilantism Threat: The order is significant due to the current threat of vigilantism against inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

2. Ignoring Constitutional Morality: The “love jihad” conspiracy and right-wing propaganda challenge constitutional morality.

3. Pending Reforms: There are ongoing petitions in the Supreme Court challenging certain provisions of the Special Marriage Act.

Question for practice: 

Discuss the implications of the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order on inter-faith marriages under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, focusing on its interpretation of legal protections, societal implications, and its alignment with constitutional principles. 

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