Now, foreigners can register marriages in Delhi under Special Act
The ruling comes on a plea by a couple seeking registration of their marriage under the Act. While the woman is Hindu and a Canadian citizen, the man is a Christian from the US.
Foreigners can register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1953, and there is no requirement for at least one of the parties to be an Indian citizen, the Delhi high court has said, directing the state government to amend their guidelines in this regard.
The ruling comes on a plea by a couple seeking registration of their marriage under the Act. While the woman is Hindu and a Canadian citizen, the man is a Christian from the US. The couple has been staying in Delhi for the last six months and wanted to get married.
Justice Prathiba M Singh, in her January 12 order, noted that section 4 of the Act leaves no doubt that any two persons can seek solemnisation of their marriage so long as conditions stipulated in the provision are fulfilled.
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“Sub-Sections (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Section 4 do not make any reference to citizens. It is only in Sub-Section (e) of Section 4, where the statute requires that in case of marriages solemnised in Jammu and Kashmir, both parties have to be citizens of India,” the court said.
Justice Singh said the statute having made a clear distinction between “any two persons” in the initial part, in contradistinction with “citizens” in Sub-Section (e) of Section 4, it is clear that the requirement of at least one party being a citizen of India is not required under the Special Marriage Act.
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The single-judge bench also directed the secretary of the concerned ministry of the Delhi government to give the details of the steps taken for amending the guidelines, along with the steps taken for editing the requirements in the e-portal under the Act in order to ensure that the requirement of one of the parties being a citizen is not insisted upon.
The matter would be heard on April 20.
Earlier, the counsel for the petitioner-couple had contended that his clients have been unable to apply online for getting their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act, as the website requires at least one of the parties to be an Indian.
Allowing the petitioner-couple to approach the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) for solemnising and registering their marriage, the court said the guidelines of the Delhi government are contrary to the statutory provisions of the Special Marriage Act, and the directions passed previously by the court in this regard have not been implemented by the authorities.
The court was referring to a 2021 judgment, passed in Aryan Arianfar & Anr vs. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors., where the Delhi government was directed to modify the e-portal and amend its guidelines so that foreign nationals whose marriages are solemnised in the national capital can apply for marriage registration.
In this case, Aryan Arianfar, a French national, and his partner, Husna Noori, had also sought registration of their marriage under the Special Marriage Act after they had got married under Islamic laws in 2021. They had contended that the Delhi government did not have an option for foreigners to register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act.
“The SDM shall process the same in accordance with the prescribed procedure without taking the objection that one of the persons has to be a citizen of India. Rest of the prescribed procedure shall be followed and the marriage shall be solemnized and registered in accordance with law,” the court said in its 8-page order.
It also said that since the directions of the court date back to the year 2019, the status report indicating compliance with direction shall be filed within four weeks, failing which, a senior official who is aware of the matter, shall join the proceedings either virtually or physically.