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Nayar-Hurley-like marriages not valid in India: Delhi HC

Last updated: 30 December, 2010
Pratap Patanik, New Delhi, Dec 30, DHNS: 0:36 IST

Court observes Hindu-non-Hindu marriages not legally bound

If Liz Hurleys tweets on her split with Arun Nayar are true, then she would rather not approach Indian courts for divorce.

For as per a Delhi High Court ruling on Thursday, any marriage between a Hindu and a non-Hindu or between two non-Hindus solemnised according to the Hindu customs is not legally bound as per the Hindu Marriage Act.

Liz Hurley is a born Christian and hence her marriage with Arun Nayar, held amid great fanfare at Umaid Bhavan Palace three years ago, isn’t valid in the eyes of the Indian law. The case is the same for the flamboyant ceremony as per Hindu rites held at Ranthambore in October this year that wedded Hollywoodian Russell Brand to pop star Kate Perry. Both Perry and Brand are born Christians.

“Mere fact that the parties had solemnised the marriage as per the Hindu rites and ceremonies would not attract the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, as the mandate of the law is that marriage has to take place between two Hindus,’’ said Justice Kailash Gambhir.

“A mere theoretical allegiance to the Hindu faith by a person born in another faith does not convert him into a Hindu, nor is a bare declaration that he is a Hindu sufficient to convert him to Hinduism.

“The conversion from one religion to another religion is a very major decision in one’s life and for proving such a conversion, it is incumbent upon the appellant to place on record complete facts and documentary material, if any, to satisfy the court that based on such facts and supporting material, the appellant had undergone change of religion,’’ Justice Gambhir said.

Going by this court ruling, if the partners are not Hindus at the time of solemnising the marriage as per Hindu rites, they cannot file for divorce under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, of 1956. The court was hearing the petition filed by Sangeeta, who had sought divorce from her husband Preston Gomes, a Christian by birth, under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Both Sangeeta and Gomes had their marriage solemnised at the Arya Samaj Mandir in New Delhi on November 24, 2007 after a courtship of a couple of years, according to Sangeeta’s advocate Manoj Kumar Srivastava. Sangeeta used to work at a media house in Noida and Gomes was an electrician.

The dispute arose after Gomes allegedly indulged in criminal activities following which Sangeeta filed the divorce petition before the family court in Delhi.

The family court had observed that Sangeeta couldn’t prove the fact that Gomes had embraced Hindu religion before she married him and hence the divorce could not be granted under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Sangeeta had challenged this order in the high court, which also dismissed her petition.

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