The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that a Sikh-Christian marriage performed by the Hindu rites with the consent of both parties cannot be invalid for claiming maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
The HC bench of justice Anita Chaudhary observed that no provision of the Hindu Marriage Act rendered a marriage void on the ground that parties belonged to different religions. It also noted that Section 4 of the Indian Christian Act stressed on the solemnisers and not on the validity of the ceremony.
Section 125 of the CrPC enables a woman to seek maintenance from her husband; but she has to prove that she is unable to maintain herself, while her husband has the means. The latest order came on a petition by an Amritsar Christian who had challenged a lower court order requiring him to pay interim maintenance of Rs 2,500 per month to his wife, pending divorce. He had argued that there was no legal, valid marriage between the parties, as the petitioner was a Christian and the respondent a Sikh; and the marriage (under the Hindu Marriage Act that applies to Sikhs) was never solemnised as per her religion.
The bench noted that a Hindu could marry a Christian under the Special Marriage Act, which permits marriage between different faiths; and Foreign Marriage Act permits a marriage between an Indian citizen and an outside resident; so it was clear that neither religion nor citizenship made the marriage void on the ground that it was not performed by the Indian Christian Marriage Act.