08 February, 2007
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notices for May 2 to the Centre as also to the state governments of Punjab and Haryana and the Chandigarh Administration on a PIL seeking quashing of some conflicting provisions in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act.
The PIL, which came up before the division bench of the Chief Justice Vijendra Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla, says that certain conflicting provisions of these two Acts were creating confusion on various vital issues concerning the marriages of persons of different faiths particularly the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists.
The petitioner, advocate H C Arora, highlighted the conflict between the provisions in the two acts on the subject matter of "conditions for solemnisation of marriage", "the conditions for registration of marriages, grounds of divorce etc. " He pointed out that a marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or Christian Marriage Act can be registered under the Special Marriage Act only if both the bride and the groom had completed the age of 21 years, at the time of registration of the marriage, whereas under the Hindu Marriage Act, marriage can be solemnised if the male was 21 years and above while the female was 18 years and above.
It was further stated that the marriage solemnised was void if either of the parties to the marriage had not attained the requisite age, but such a marriage solemnised under the Hindu Marriage Act would not be void though punishable under the Child Marriage Restraint Act.
Similarly, if a spouse was undergoing sentence of imprisonment for seven years or more, it was valid ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act. Likewise, if a party to marriage renounced the world (by taking Sanyas), it was a valid ground for the other party to seek divorce whereas such a ground was not available to the parties under the Hindu Marriage Act.
A married minor girl, whether her marriage was consummated or not, on attaining the age of majority, can repudiate her marriage under the Hindu Marriage act, but she cannot do so if her marriage was solemnised under the special marriage act.
The petitioner argued that these conflicting provisions were only illustrative, whereas several other aspects of conflict between the two enactments have also been highlighted.
He has prayed that out of the two sets of conflicting provisions under these acts, any one set of provisions be quashed and as a consequential relief, the quashed set of provisions of one act be directed to be substituted by the corresponding set of provisions in the other act till the respondents appropriately amend and reconcile the provisions of the two acts.