‘Right to marriage a fundamental human right’: Madras HC allows virtual wedding of Indian woman, US man

The HC observed that Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides for liberty to the parties to adopt any form of solemnisation of marriage provided that it is recognised and reasonable and not against public policy.

‘Right to marriage a fundamental human right’: Madras HC allows virtual wedding of Indian woman, US man

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court recently allowed a Tamil bride and a US-based groom to solemnize their marriage virtually while holding that the right to marriage a fundamental human right. Coming to the aide of Vasmi Sudarshini from Kanniyakumari and Rahul L Madhu, a US citizen, the court also allowed the bride’s plea to obtain the marriage certificate stating that she could affix signatures for herself as well as her groom as she already had the power of attorney for the same.

Vasmi moved a petition in the Madras High Court after the couple’s joint application under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, before the sub-registrar was not acted upon. The couple had filed the application on May 5 this year, following which a notice was published a week later. 

After waiting for the mandatory 30-day period for the marriage to be solemnised, the couple was in for a shock when they were told upon their visit to the registration office that their application had not proceeded further.

Rahul, a US citizen, had to return owing to Visa requirements following which Vasmi moved the petition in court. 

Observing that Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, provides for liberty to the parties to adopt any form of solemnisation of marriage provided that it is recognised and reasonable and not against public policy, Justice GR Swaminathan of the HC noted that the present situation would not have arisen had the respondent taken steps at the time the marriage was to be solemnised at the registration office. 

“Just as an act of the court should not harm any party, the default committed by the authority ought not to result in prejudicial consequences,” the court noted, while citing past instances where marriages were recognised in the absence of either party, reported Live Law. 

“Since the law has to keep pace with the march of technology, the choice of the parties (to solemnise their marriage through virtual mode) herein very much passes legal muster,” Justice Swaminathan noted while directing the sub-registrar to facilitate the solemnisation of the marriage of the petitioner with Rahul in the presence of three witnesses through virtual mode.

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