'Invades Right to Privacy': Allahabad HC Makes Display of Notice for Inter-faith Marriages Optional

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The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ruled that mandatory publication of notices for inter-faith marriages will be optional in order to protect the liberty and privacy of the couples.

Justice Vivek Choudhary observed that the publication of notices would "invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy" and also affect a couple's decision to marry due to interference from state and non-state actors.

In an order that is likely to bring relief to inter-faith couples, the court said it will be optional for couples to make a request in writing to a marriage officer to publish or not publish a notice regarding the union.

"While giving notice under Section 5, it shall be optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the Marriage Officer to publish or not to publish a notice under Section 6," the court said.

According to a section of the Special Marriages Act, 1954, an inter-faith couple is required to submit a notice of the marriage to the District Marriage Officer. The notice is further displayed in the official's office in case anyone wishes to raise an objection to the marriage within 30 days.

The court order further read, "In case they do not make such a request for publication of notice in writing, while giving notice the Marriage Officer shall not publish any such notice or entertain objections to the intended marriage and proceed with the solemnization of the marriage."

"Therefore, the requirement of publication of notice under Section 6 and inviting/entertaining objections under Section 7 can only be read as directory in nature, to be given effect only on request of parties to the intended marriage and not otherwise," it said.