State can’t prohibit interfaith marriage, says Delhi HC

Delhi high court

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that there is no way the State can prohibit an interfaith couple from marrying. The court said this while hearing a petition moved by two foreign nationals seeking solemnisation of marriage and its registration under Special Marriage Act, 1954,
Justice Yashwant Varma was hearing the plea moved by a couple comprising a Hindu woman who is a Canadian citizen and a Christian man who is an American citizen who intend to marry. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the couple has been residing in Delhi for over six months. They intend to continue their stay and marry under the Special Marriage Act (SMA).
The counsel also submitted that the petitioners intend to get married under the SMA as other related laws prohibit interfaith marriage. Justice Varma said, “There is no way that the State can prohibit an interfaith couple to marry.”
“The petition raises the issue of right of foreign nationals to solemnize and regulation of their intended marriage under the Special Marriage Act. In order to enable parties to advance detailed submissions and for the court to deal with the issue…. let the matter be called again on December 15, the court ordered on Wednesday.
The court has granted liberty to the parties to file their written submissions and judgement they relied upon in the matter.
The plea moved by advocate Rishabh Kapur stated that the couple had applied for marriage on the Delhi Government website. After filing their particulars, an error message came which read “at least one party should be Indian.” Thereafter the couple was not allowed to proceed further.
They were informed by the SDM office that the website required the details of the parties to be made in a particular manner, the petition stated. The petitioners have sought a direction to the Delhi Government and SDM to allow them to submit their documents physically and solemnize and register their marriage under SMA in a time-bound manner.
The petition has placed reliance on the direction passed by the High Court in 2021 wherein the Delhi Government was directed to take steps for amending the guidelines and make necessary changes in the website to enable foreign nationals, who intend to solemnize their marriage in Delhi to apply for registration of their marriage.
The petition submitted that no action has been taken by the government to make the changes even after the direction passed 16 months back.