RIGHT TO MARRIAGE BY CHOICE
Generally in Indian culture, marriage by choice seems like insolence. We all know that the right to marriage by own choice is a fundamental right given to both males and females under Article 21 of the Constitution but its practical interpretation in an Indian family is hard to find. The right to marriage is one of the personal rights because in marriage it is essential to have a unique bond between the couples and to have a meeting of the minds of the two to live together for life.
Right to marriage
Marriage is one of the sacred sacraments of everyone’s life. After the establishment of a sociological society, marriage was accepted as a social institution for creating a civilized and ideal society. Marriage is the legitimate union of two persons and gives legal rights to them against each other. It is a relationship where there are no contractual terms but only trust and love bound together by the conditions of support of each other.
From the international perspective, the right to marriage is supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN) under Article 16.
But we can’t say that arranged marriages are forced and unlawful, because it is Indian tradition followed by many communities. Our topic is concerned with the free consent of both parties.
Problems in India
Indian peoples have more egos in relations rather than logic. In India marriage seems to be a contract between elders for the entire life of their younger ones. In the major portion of the country till today the marriage of two persons is held by the choice of elders. The couples are not even allowed to see each other before the marriage. India is a secular country but when a boy or a girl wishes to marry into another religion or wish to change their religion for marriage it became a debate topic for the whole nation. There are uncountable religious issues in every Indian family and instead of respecting the love and understanding in relationships; here priority is given to religion and castes firstly if it is qualified then secondly to horoscopes and astrology if it is qualified then to the financial backgrounds. So basically it is a contract between the two families. In between all the mess of customs and religions the rights of couples who wants to get married are lost in load, ego, and respect of family. Forced marriage and child marriage is illegal in India and in order to protect the marriage rights there are different statutes such as Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Special Marriage Act 1954, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939, etc. but in the view of choices of marriage, they are just a legislative work without its execution.
Indian Judiciary in regard to Marriage Rights
India is a free democratic country with a general perception that no parents think worse for their children for a long time. Judiciary is silent in a matter of personal beliefs, but in the recent judgment, the Supreme Court has interpreted the rights of marriage as fundamental rights.
Supreme Court in its recent landmark judgment of Safin Jahan V/S Ashokan KM and others set aside the judgment of Kerala High Court and allowed a Muslim convert girl, to live with her husband Safin Jahan and stated that-
The father in his own stand and perception may feel that there has been an enormous transgression of his right to protect the interest of his daughter but his viewpoint and position cannot be allowed to curtail the fundamental rights of her daughter, who out of her own violation married the appellant.
The right to marry a person of his/her owns choice is an integral part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
If someone is forced to marry and anyone makes an effort to marry anyone against his / her will, then he/ she can make a complaint before the nearest police station and can take help and protection from the officers. Women can also opt for the National Commission for Women helpline for fast redressal.
The right to marry by own choice should be the fundamental right of every individual because it is a relationship between two persons and they have to maintain it for a lifetime so it is correct to choose partner by own choices and there should be equal respect in between them. Forced marriage against the will is an offence. Similarly, the conversion of religion for marriage is also a fundamental and personal right of every individual irrespective of family customs. And everyone is free to choose and worship any God or Goddess.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aadarsh Kumar Shrivastava is a BA LLB (Xth-sem) at Govt. New Law College, Indore.
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