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Supreme Court Ruling on ‘Self-Respect’ Marriages

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, the Supreme Court held that ‘self-respect’ marriages or ‘suyamariyathai’ under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, do not need public solemnisation or declarations, setting aside a May 2023 Madras High Court judgement.
  • Supreme Court affirms the fundamental right to choose one’s life partner.

Advocates’ role

  • Advocates are discouraged from solemnising ‘self-respect marriages’ professionally.
  • Advocates can serve as witnesses for such marriages in their personal capacities as friends or relatives.

Background on ‘Self-Respect’ Marriages

  • Originated as part of the self-respect movement in the 1920s led by Tamil social reformer Periyar.
  • Aims to eliminate caste practices and promote inter-caste marriages based on respect and equality.

Overruling of Madras High Court’s 2024 Judgement:

  • Supreme Court overturns the 2014 Madras High Court judgment that declared marriages performed by advocates as invalid.
  • Cites the potential danger of public solemnisation due to societal pressures.

Special Marriage Act

  • Another legislation permitting secular marriages.
  • Applies to people of all faiths in India and allows inter-faith marriages.
  • Criticized for its objection provision, which can be used to harass inter-religious couples.

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