The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Madhya Pradesh High Court order, directing an Arya Samaj organisation that while solemnising marriages, it must comply with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan and lawyer Vanshaja Shukla, representing the Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, contended that the high court committed an error by transgressing into the domain of legislature by directing that Arya Samaj marriages conducted by the Arya Samaj temples, under the jurisdiction of the petitioner society in MP, will have to solemnised in consonance of the provisions of the Special Marriage Act.
The petitioner organization said it has jurisdiction over all Arya Samaj temples in Madhya Pradesh.
Counsel argued that the high court wrongly directed that Arya Samaj temples should solemnise the marriages after complying with the provisions of Sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Special Marriage Act, which provide for prerequisite conditions viz, notice of intended marriage, publication of notice, marriage notebook, objection to marriage, and the procedure.
A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy, after hearing arguments, stayed the Madhya Pradesh High Court order, which directed the organisation to amend its guidelines in accordance with the Act, and also issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh government.
The matter originated from a plea filed by an inter-caste couple in the high court in 2020, claiming they got married according as per Arya Samaj tradition, and moved the court seeking direction to the state government to provide them protection.
The petitioner organisation denied the couple’s claim in the high court and added that the organisation, which helped them marry, was not linked to it. A single bench judge at the high court in December 2020, issued specific directions to the Sabha to amend its guidelines to incorporate sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Special Marriage Act, within a month. This verdict was upheld by a division bench of the high court in December 2021.
The plea contended that the high court’s direction that marriage certificates will have to be issued by competent authority as per the Special Marriage Act, takes away power from Arya Samaj temples to issue certificates for marriage. “It is submitted that if Arya Samaj temples are solemnising a marriage of two Hindus, in consonance with Sections 5 and 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, then there is absolutely no requirement to comply with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act,” said the plea.
“It is accordingly submitted that with respect to Arya Samaj marriages, it’s the Hindu Marriage Act and that the Arya Marriage Act that holds the field and not the Special Marriage Act.”