‘Arya Samaj certificates not proof of marriage’

‘Arya Samaj certificates not proof of marriage’

About Arya Samaj:

  • Arya Samaj  means “Society of Nobles” in Sanskrit, is a vigorous reform movement of modern Hinduism.
  • It was founded by Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati in 1875, whose vision was to reestablish the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, as revealed truth.
  • The Arya Samaj is against the worship of murtis (images), animal sacrifice, shraddha (rituals on behalf of ancestors), considering caste upon birth rather than upon merit, untouchability, child marriage, pilgrimages, priestly craft, and temple offerings. 
  • It upholds the infallibility of the Vedas, the doctrines of karma (the accumulated effect of past deeds) and samsara (the process of death and rebirth), the sanctity of the cow, the importance of the samskaras (individual sacraments), the efficacy of Vedic oblations to the fire, and programs of social reform.

What is Arya Samaj Marriage Certificate And Why Does the Supreme Court Consider It Invalid?

  • Arya Samaj marriage acquires its validity from the Arya Samaj Marriage Validation Act, 1937, and also under some of the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
  • A certificate of marriage can be issued by any Arya samaj temple to a groom of age 21 or older and a bride of age 18 or older. Similar to the Hindu marriage (sacred fire) ceremony, the marriage ceremony is conducted according to the Vedic rituals. 
  • Significantly, Inter-Caste Marriages and Inter-Religious Marriages are allowed to perform in an Arya Samaj Marriage but the marrying persons should not be Muslims, Christians, Parsis, or Jews. If any non-Hindu couple wants to perform the marriage according to the Arya Samajh, Samaj allows them to get converted by the process called Shuddhi.

Is Arya Samaj’s marriage certificate valid?

  • A marriage certificate issued by Arya samaj is not equivalent to getting the marriage legally registered. The marriage is required to be registered under the applicable laws at the office of the sub-divisional magistrate after getting the certificate from Arya Samaj.
  • Reports say that if both the groom and bride are Hindu, it falls under the Hindu Marriage Act while the Special Marriage Act may apply in the case of other religions. However, the validity of such marriages is still open before the apex court and recently the Supreme Court remarked on the invalid status of Arya Samaj marriage certificates.

What was the verdict of the MP high court?

  • In April, this year, the Supreme Court put up an order of the Madhya Pradesh high court directing the Arya Samaj to solemnize marriages in accordance with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. 
  • The Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha filed a plea seeking a reply from the Madhya Pradesh government on the issue. On December 17, 2021, the Madhya Bharat Arya Pratinidhi Sabha challenged the High court verdict in the Supreme court and directed the organization to amend its 2016 norms and incorporate provisions of the Special Marriage Act.
  • Further, the court noted that marriage certificates could only be issued by a competent authority under the Special Marriage Act. In this regard, the Sabha argued that the Hindu Marriage Act and Arya Marriage Act of 1937 holds the field of Arya Samaj marriage, not the Special Marriage Act.

Recent News: The Allahabad High Court has recently dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a man to get back his wife. The petitioner had submitted a marriage certificate issued by an Arya Samaj temple as proof.

What is habeas corpus?

‘Habeas Corpus’ means “to have a body of”. This writ is used to release a person who has been unlawfully detained or imprisoned. On the strength of this writ, the Court directs the person so detained to be brought before it to examine the legality of his detention. If the Court comes to a conclusion that the detention was not according to the law i.e. unlawful, then it directs the person to be released immediately. Circumstances of unlawful detention are:

  • The detention was not done in accordance with the procedure laid down. For instance, the person was not produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
  • The person was arrested when he did not violate any law.
  • An arrest was made under a law that is unconstitutional. 

Habeas Corpus ensures swift judicial review of the alleged unlawful detention of the prisoner and immediate determination of his right to freedom. However, Habeas corpus cannot be granted where a person has been arrested under an order from a competent court and when prima facie the order does not appear to be wholly illegal or without jurisdiction. This writ can be filed by the detained person himself or his relatives or friends on his behalf. It can be issued against both public authorities and individuals.

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