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While MP HC delivered a shocking judgement legitimising Sharia, Allahabad HC gave contrary verdict, said ‘no need for conversion under Special Marriage Act’

Allahabad High Court said that a person need not change religion to marry a person of a different religion under the Special Marriage Act, while Madhya Pradesh HC had said conversion is required before marriage

In the month of May 2024, a curious case of different verdicts on interfaith marriage by two different High Courts emerged. While one High Court said that a Hindu and a Muslim can marry under the Special Marriage Act, the other High Court ruled that such marriages violate the Islamic Sharia Law and that Sharia supersedes the Special Marriage Act passed by the Indian parliament.

On 27th May, the Madhya Pradesh High Court ruled that a marriage between a Muslim boy with a Hindu girl is not a valid marriage according to the Mohammedan Law, saying that even if the marriage is registered under the special marriage act, it will be treated as irregular (or fasid) marriage under Muslim personal law.

The High Court dismissed the couple’s petition for police protection noting that they were neither willing to be in a live-in relationship without being married nor was the Hindu girl willing to convert to the boy’s religion Islam. The court implied that the Hindu girl must convert to Islam to marry the Muslim boy for the marriage to be recognised by Sharia, ignoring the plea that Special Marriage Act allows such interfaith marriages.

Now, it has been reported that on 14th May, Allahabad High Court delivered a contrary verdict, saying that a person need not change religion to marry a person of a different religion under the Special Marriage Act. The ruling came in a similar plea filed by an interfaith couple seeking police protection and direction to restrain opposite parties from interfering with their life, liberty and privacy.

The petitioners said that they had decided to marry under the Special Marriage Act without converting to the religion of the other, and said that they were facing opposition and threats over this decision. They submitted that they could not proceed with the marriage registration without protection. The State opposed the couple’s plea, arguing that they had already gotten married under a marriage agreement which is not legally valid and therefore, no protection could be granted.

Accepting the plea and granting protection to the couple, the bench of Justice Jyotsna Sharma of Allahabad High Court said that the law does not prevent the parties from applying for court marriage under the Special Marriage Act without conversion.  The court stated, “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.”

The court also asked the couple to “show their bonafide” by taking steps to solemnize their marriage under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act and filing documentary proof thereof with the supplementary affidavit before the next hearing on 10th July.

Notably, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 was brought to enable marriage irrespective of the religion of the concerned parties. It is the only way for an interfaith couple to legally marry without one of them requiring to convert to the religion of the other. Therefore, the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s ruling has raised questions, as the verdict places Islamic Sharia law above the Special Marriage Act. The HC said that a Hindu must convert to Islam before marrying a Muslim, directly contradicting the Special Marriage Act.

This is not the first time the high courts have given conflicting verdicts in matters related to Muslim Personal Law, with several High Court placing the Muslim Personal Law over the country’s laws like IPC and POCSO. Some courts like Kerala High Court and Karnataka High Court have dismissed marriage of minor Muslim girls as it is not allowed under POCSO and prevention of child marriage act, while others like Punjab & Haryana, Delhi and Gujarat High Courts have allowed such marriages saying it is allowed under Islamic laws.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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