CHENNAI: The Madras high court has limited the scope of self-respect marriage, saying that it can only be performed between two Hindus. “The reformist zeal of the legislature stopped with tinkering the institution of Hindu marriage and did not venture beyond,” Justice G R Swaminathan said while rejecting a plea moved by a Hindu-Christian couple who performed self-respect marriage and wanted to register the same under the Special Marriages Act.
The court rejected a plea moved by S Sarath Kumar seeking direction to a sub-registrar to register his marriage under the Special Marriages Act. “As already pointed out, the petitioner is a Hindu while his wife Lediya is a Christian. They underwent what is apparently a self-respect marriage. But Section 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act dealing with such marriages can have no application,” the judge said.
“The provision (Section 7-A) was introduced in 1967 to confer recognition for marriages held without religious ceremonies. In other words, a sacramental marriage performed as per ceremonies as well as a marriage celebrated in terms of Section 7-A are both valid. However, Suyamariyathai marriages (reformist/self-respect marriages) can be performed only between two Hindus,” the court added.
“The petitioner can hope to succeed only if he can show that his marriage was solemnized under the Special Marriage Act,” the court said and suggested the petitioner to solemnize his marriage under the Special Marriage Act by following the procedures contemplated.
Explaining the procedure to be followed under the Special Marriages Act to solemnize a marriage, Justice Swaminathan said: “Section 5 of the Act stipulates that the parties to the marriage should give notice thereof in a prescribed form. The marriage officer shall enter the notices given thereunder in the Marriage Notice Book and it shall be open for inspection.”
“That is how the news about the proposed marriage between 72-year-old ‘Periyar’ E V Ramasamy and 27-year-old Maniyammai became known because someone came across the notice of intended marriage given by them. French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife is 25 years older to him. For such illustrious couples, age is a mere number,” Justice Swaminathan said.