Madhya Pradesh High Court Declares Interfaith Marriages Invalid Under Muslim Personal Law

A recent decision by the Madhya Pradesh High Court regarding the legitimacy of interfaith marriages has garnered significant attention. The court dismissed a request for police protection to help register an interfaith marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man under the Special Marriage Act of 1954.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia stated that such marriages are not valid under Muslim personal law, even if registered under the Special Marriage Act. This ruling, delivered on May 27, highlights the legal intricacies surrounding inter-religious marriages in India.

The case involved a Hindu woman and a Muslim man seeking legal protection to formalize their union under the Special Marriage Act. The woman’s family opposed the marriage, citing societal concerns and accusing the woman of eloping with family jewelry.

The couple, represented by lawyer Dinesh Kumar Upadhayay, emphasized that they did not wish to convert to each other’s religion and intended to marry under the secular provisions of the Special Marriage Act.

The core legal issue was whether the secular provisions of the Special Marriage Act should take precedence over religious personal laws in matters of interfaith marriages. Upadhayay argued that the Act should take precedence, promoting secularism and individual marital choice.

However, Justice Ahluwalia disagreed, stating that while the Act allows for interfaith marriages, it does not supersede the personal religious laws governing marriage. The court referenced Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act, which allows marriages only if the parties are not in a prohibited relationship as per their personal religious laws.

Additionally, the court noted that the couple’s unwillingness to enter a live-in relationship or convert to each other’s religions further weakened their legal position.

This ruling highlights the ongoing conflict between secular law and religious personal laws in India and the difficulties faced by interfaith couples.


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