The marriage between a Hindu and a non-Hindu solemnized as per the Hindu rites is neither valid nor the parties can claim any benefits under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), the Delhi High Court has ruled.
The High Court also held that "mere theoretical allegiance" to Hinduism would not make one a Hindu unless he or she had actually converted to the religion.
"Mere fact that the parties had solemnized 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 in a recent judgment.
The court dismissed a petition filed by a woman, who sought divorce under the HMA, claiming that her marriage with a Christian had taken place at Arya Samaj temple as per Hindu rituals in 2007 and said the parties were required to be Hindu at the time of solemnization of marriage.
"It is imperative to prove that both the parties were Hindus at the time of the solemnization of marriage," the court said.
The court rejected the woman's claim that her husband had converted to Hinduism as she failed to furnish any evidence to substantiate her claim.
"...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."
The ruling came on a petition filed by Sangeeta, who challenged the family court's March 2010 order dismissing her divorce petition on the ground that her husband Preston Gomes is a Christian and there was no evidence to prove that he converted to Hinduism.