Don't discriminate against women for marrying outside faith: SC

Don't discriminate against women for marrying outside faith: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said a woman cannot be discriminated against on her right to practise religion singularly for marrying a man outside her faith.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a woman does not mortgage herself to a man by marrying him. She retains her religious identity when she exercises her right to marry outside her community under the Special Marriage Act.

The court said the Special Marriage Act, 1954 gives the women a right of choice and nobody can take away the religious identity.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, made these observations as senior advocate Indira Jasing, appearing for Goolrakh M Gupta  contended that Mumbai-based Valsad Parsi Trust's decision to deny the petitioner the right to enter the temple of fire and other religious places to mourn her father's demise was a kind of "excommunication".

"To say that I would not be allowed to attend the funeral of my father is excommunication. It is the trustee who had tried to keep me out for marrying a Hindu man. If a man is allowed (if marries outside the religion), how can a woman be denied the same right," she contended.

Jaising submitted that religion is a matter of choice which cannot be denied by a denomination which is managing a trust. A woman cannot be denied her fundamental right to practise religion though the issue involved interplay of various other rights like equality and no discrimination guaranteed under the Constitution, she contended.

During the hearing, the court was told this kind of discrimination was not practised in other states. The court then asked senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, representing the trust, to seek instruction if similar kind of provisions, allowing women to retain her religious identity, could be allowed there.

The court put the matter for further consideration on December 14.

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