New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a plea against the 30-day public notice to furnish details of couples who intend to marry under the Special Marriage Act.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian queried the petitioner's counsel Kaleeswaram Raj: "Your plea is that this is a violation of their privacy. But what if children elope to get married and parents need to be told about their whereabouts? What if a spouse runs away? How will the other spouse know where they are?"
In response, Raj said that the plea focused only on whether the information regarding the couple can be published. The bench then asked why should they (husband or father) not come to know about it? The counsel replied the inquiry by the officer is not the issue.
The petition challenges certain provisions of the Act on the ground that these violate the Fundamental Rights of citizens under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, as the parties are required to publish their private details, open for public scrutiny, 30 days before the intended marriage.
The PIL was moved by Kerala-based law student Nandini Praveen who contended that the publication of personal details might often have a chilling effect on the right to marry.
The petitioner claimed that couples are asked to waive the right to privacy to exercise the right to marry. "This infringes the rights of autonomy, dignity and the right to marry, of various couples," said the PIL.
"Publishing details of notice of marriage by the Marriage Officers include the details of the parties like names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents' names and details, address, pin code, identity information, and phone number etc. This is a peculiar requirement of the Act...," added the plea.
"The provisions also allow anyone to submit objections to the proposed marriage and empower the Marriage Officer to inquire into such objections," the plea read.
The plea urged the court to strike down Sections 6(2), 7, 8 and 10 of the Special Marriage Act as unconstitutional and illegal.
"The requirement of notice before marriage is absent in the Hindu Marriage Act and customary laws in Islam. Therefore, the said provision is also discriminatory and violative of Article 14 (right to equality)," said the petitioner.