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Supreme Court: All Inter-Faith Marriages Are ‘Void’ Under Hindu Act

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Published on: 15 January 2023 at 08:45 IST

Supreme Court bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna ruled that any marriage between inter-faith couples under the Hindu Marriage Act is void and only Hindus can marry under the same law.

The Apex Court observed, Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

A complaint has been filed in Hyderabad against the petitioner under section 494 of IPC,1860 in 2013 alleging that the petitioner defacto was married to the complainant in February 2008 according to Hindu Rites thereby their wedding is under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.

Petitioner submitted to the Court that the Petitioner has been falsely implicated in the case and he has not committed any offence much less the alleged offence and the allegation that the petitioner married the Defacto complainant in accordance with Hindu rites/customs is not true.

Petitioner added never married her, the petitioner said adding that except for her statement, she has not filed any proof of the alleged marriage with her by the petitioner, as it has not at all taken place. He claimed himself as a Christian and the complainant is a Hindu.

Petitioner further added in his statement that there is no evidence on record to the allegation that the petitioner married another woman while the marriage with the complainant was subsisting and therefore, the main ingredients of the offence under Section 494 of IPC are not made out and therefore taking the cognizance of the case under Section 494 of IPC against the petitioner is illegal, without jurisdiction and unjust.

The petitioner further submitted that the alleged marriage was never recorded prior to the alleged ceremony nor was it registered after the alleged ceremony as required under the Special Marriage Act for inter-faith marriages.

In the matter before Supreme Court, petitioner submitted that the allegations against him are absolutely false, baseless and fabricated and there is no iota of truth in the said allegations, and the engagement ceremony which cannot be termed a marriage and moreover even if such a marriage (though not admitted) did take place as alleged by the Second Respondent the same is a void marriage given that the Petitioner is a Christian by religion and at no point in time did he ever convert his religion to Hinduism.