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British court upholds Hindu marriage

Geoffrey Darnton claims he was never legally married and only went through with the ceremony in India in 1992 to please the family of his bride.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2005 11:39 IST

A British husband from Christchurch, Dorset, plans to approach the European Court of Human Rights after a British court of appeal rejected his plea to annul his Hindu marriage with a south Indian in 1992.

University lecturer Geoffrey Darnton, 57, claims he was never legally married and only went through with the ceremony in India in 1992 to please the family of his "bride" Mokshadayini, mother of his two daughters.

The couple were married in a Hindu ceremony at Bangalore in 1992 and are now separated.

Darnton told the media after the court hearing that he had spent "tens of thousands of pounds" to annul the marriage.

At Bournemouth County Court last year he signed an acceptance that the marriage was valid, but at the Court of Appeal he sought to have the agreement rescinded.

He claimed he only signed because of the mounting cost of legal bills and pressure from lawyers of the Attorney General's department who were called in to advise on the case.

But after hearing legal arguments, Lord Justice Ward refused Darnton leave to appeal, ruling that there was no reasonable prospect of success.

Speaking outside the court, Darnton who styled himself a non-practising Christian, said he objected to being labelled a Hindu and his right to religious freedom had been violated.

"What has been decided today is that if two British non-Hindus are married in a Hindu ceremony in India they can return home and declare themselves married," Darnton said.

"Soon travel agents will be offering holidays to India for those who don't want to wait to get married in the UK.

"It also makes a mockery of Indian marriage laws."

He also protested it was unfair he should have to meet the legal costs for the Attorney General as well as his wife's lawyers when the country's most senior law officer had been called in specifically to unravel the complex case.

Darnton's wife, 48, who also lives in Christchurch, welcomed the judge's decision. "I believe in the British justice system and I'm very happy with today's outcome, " she said.

"I'm pleased for my children and it is a victory for morals," she added.

First Published: Oct 10, 2005 11:39 IST