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Marriages Of Lust And Greed !

By Asif Iqbal

23 November, 2011

A bench of Justices Dalip Singh and Sajjan Singh Kothari in High Court of Rajasthan has stated that the marriages based on right to choose or generally known as love marriages are examples of “lust and greed”! The remark was one of few abhorrent statements made by the Bench on 21nd October 2011 during their ruling on hearing of a Habeas Corpus petition filed by a 34-year-old man. The news was covered by PTI and was published in various newspapers on 23rd October 2011. The man was forced to file a habeas corpus petition as his 18 years old wife was forcibly taken back by her parents after learning about their marriage. The statements as quoted in the news are; “the pious purpose of the Arya Samaj mission has been lost at by local units in the State and they are becoming tool for pacification of ‘greed and lust' for girl and boy, and once it is over the marriage lands in courts resulting in irreversible breakdowns” & “it takes them one hour to solemnize a marriage between an 18-year-old girl and a 40-year-old gentleman, which leaves scars forever in the life of parents who bring up their children with great passion and aspirations. Such marriages in lust and greed by young blood cannot be said to be correct”. Such insensitive statements by the renowned judges can only strengthen the prevalent mind block of those who want to retain the society in its strong caste based compartments.

The judgment related to the filed habeas corpus petition no. 151/2011 viz. Budha Ram Meena Vs State of Rajasthan & Ors. was fairly rejected the filed petition as the marriage performed as per the Arya Samaj rituals between the petitioner and his wife had bypassed few essential rules titled “Arya Samajon Mai Vivah Ke Niyam” issued by Sarvdeshik Arya Prathinidhi Sabha in Delhi. But, I am highly disturbed by the statements passed by the Bench during their judgments which are quoted above and are covered by various news papers. Being a member of Dhanak, a group that is working on the issues of couples in inter-religious and caste alliance for past 8 years, I wish to write about the reasons that leads most of the aspiring couples to go for religious solemnization of their marriages instead of a-religious solemnization of their marriage under the Special Marriage Act – 1954. It is important to mention that any adult, irrespective of its faith or caste can get married under Special Marriage Act. So could have this couple with inter-caste background but, then why did they decide to go for a religious marriage? Surely they wanted to avoid intimation to their parents about their marriage through a notice as any other couple will do in anticipation of threat to their life and liberty. When a couple of different faith or caste decides to get married under the stiff socio-political opposition, at first, they wish to exercise their constitutional rights and provisions for marriage. In majority of such cases they are misled and discouraged by the advocates and the officials in the Marriage Officers office. If the couple is of different castes, they are never ever advised by the advocates to go for marriage solemnization under Special Marriage Act. So is the case with couples of different faith as they also get suggestions for a religious solemnization of their marriage based on faith of the couples and marriage registration later on the basis of the marriage certificate received from the priest. There are 2 main reasons for such an advice. One is the personal faith and caste based biases of the advocates and the concerned officials and the other is the discouraging rules and practices associated with the implementation of Special Marriage Act.

Barring Delhi, all other states are following a dangerous practice of sending a copy of the notice for intended marriage to the permanent address of the marrying couples. Thanks to the initiatives of the Delhi government and a land mark judgment by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat of Delhi High Court in April 2009. The practice of sending notices to the permanent address of the couples solemnizing their marriage in Special Marriage Act is reduced. It is still not stopped fully as the officials are scared of the wrath of the parents of marrying couples. The administration of Ghaziabad, NOIDA and Gurgaon in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are not even ready to bear the expense of dispatch of notices so they ensure submission of envelopes with requisite postal stamps and addresses from the couples. The couple has to give an advertisement about their proposed marriage in a leading news paper and a copy of the same is to be submitted to the Marriage Officer’s office. In Gurgaon, the concerned Deputy Commissioner’s office has taken the pain of adding a column of religion in the intent to marry form and an additional point about of citizenship of the applicant in the declaration form. I wonder why the religion is to be mentioned in the only legally recognized marriage that has nothing to do with the faith of the marrying couples. Gurgaon office also needs the envelopes with the name, designation of the Marriage Officers of the district where the applicants have their permanent residence. I speculate how much home work a couple can do before filing its application. The marriage cannot be solemnized without the receipt of the verification report from the Tehsildar and why will the report reach on its own? The couple has to take the pain for the release of the report from Tehsildar’s office. I am sure after going through few of the essentials for marriage one can say that no couple would like to go through the traumatic experience on its own. So for the couples who still retain their keenness to get married under Special Marriage Act, they have to engage an advocate and shell out huge fee for his/her services. Unfortunately, majority of couples cannot afford the services of an advocate and under various hostile and complex socio-political pressures they are forced to go for a religious form of marriage. There too they are misguided and cheated by the concerned persons for their economic and faith based gains as it happened in the case of this couple.

The judges’ presumption that all such marriages ends in a divorce shows their limited understanding about the complexities of married life for couples who challenge the conventional form of marriage. By branding the marriages as “tool for pacification of greed and lust”, the judges have literally abused the essential emotional component called love in any form of love marriage. Surprisingly, the judges have been sympathetic towards the emotions and the sufferings of the parents but, have completely overlooked the similar feelings of children about their parents. I would like to inform that none of the couples wish to have absence of the blessings from their dear parents and respectable elders at the time of their marriage. They wish to cherish the love, care and support from their parents during their whole life, like the married couples in any form of marriage do.

I wish the ruling should have also taken cognizance of the exiting hostilities of the officials in the administrative bodies responsible for solemnization and registration of marriages. We sincerely hope that the administration responsible for solemnization/registration of such marriages take a serious note of this situation and consider it as its absolute failure of their performance. Unless the various governments and groups working on religious/caste based coexistence takes a proactive initiative in easing the process of marriage solemnization/ registration, we cannot built a society free from faith and caste hegemonic stereotypes.

The writer is a Founder Member of a group viz. Dhanak. This group is working on the issues of couples in inter-faith/caste relationships for past 8 years. Kindly visit www.dhanak.org.in to learn more about Dhanak




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