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Friday, May 17, 2024

Self-perform marriages, take action against lawyers issuing marriage certificates: HC

The Madras High Court recently directed the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council to initiate disciplinary proceedings against lawyers who preside over secret marriages in their offices or trade union offices and issue marriage certificates.

In an order passed on May 5, a vacation bench of Justices M Dhandapani and R Vijayakumar of the Madurai bench of the High Court reaffirmed that as per Supreme Court such marriages and the marriage certificates issued pursuant to the same are invalid.

The bench further said that all marriages, including those performed under the ‘self respect’ provision must be “registered under the Tamil Nadu Registration of Marriages Act, 2009 and the parties must physically appear before the Registrar.”

In 1968, the State of Tamil Nadu legalised self respect marriages that require consent of both parties who meet the minimum age requirement for marriage, and do away with upper caste priests and elaborate rituals. These marriages too however, need to be registered as per law.

“We are wondered as to how the advocates are authorised to perform special marriages in their office or Trade Union?” the High Court said.

It cited the apex court’s 2014 decision in the case of S Balakrishnan Pandiyan vs The Superintendent of Police in which it was held that marriages performed in secrecy in the offices of advocates and bar association rooms cannot amount to solemnisation as required under the Law.

“The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu is also directed to initiate disciplinary action against the lawyers who are conducting these types of marriages all over Tamil Nadu by issuing fake certificates after providing opportunity to them within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. The Law Enforcing Agency is also at liberty to proceed against the lawyers who are performing these types of marriages as well as the petitioner in the manner known to law,” the High Court said.

The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by one Ilavarasan claiming that his wife had been forcibly detained by her parents, though they had gotten married in the presence of advocates and office bearers of the Trade Union, under Section 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

He also said that the advocates had issued the couple a self-respect marriage certificate.

The Court held that the marriage was invalid and then directed the Bar Council to initiate action against the concerned lawyers in the present case after issuing them notices. The Court also directed the Bar Council to take action against all lawyers conducting such marriages across the State.

Advocate R Alagumani appeared for the petitioner Ilavarasan. Additional Public Prosecutor S Ravi appeared for the respondent State police.

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