This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by VIVEK RAJ. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Does The Special Marriage Act Have A Privacy Concern?

The Special Marriages Act,1954 is being challenged over privacy concerns through a writ petition, filed by a law student of Kerala. Marriage, as defined in sociological theorem, is “as a socially supported and sanctified union involving to the individual as partners in a personal relationship”.

The Special Marriages Act is a special Act, which lays down provisions for the marriage of individuals belonging to two different religions. Because every religion has their own marriage acts and persons of that religion are governed by their respective marriage acts. An individual who wishes to marry an individual of a different religion, their marriage is governed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Representational image.

The petitioner Nandini Pravin, sought the direction of the Apex Court to quash some of the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Nandini argued against Section 5, Chapter 1 of this Act for placing a notice to-be-wed couples in the public domain. Section 4 of the Act defines the pre-condition relating to solemnizing of special marriages, which include some clauses, which have to be fulfilled by the parties getting married, they are as follows:-

  • Neither party has a spouse living.
  • Incapable of giving valid consent, in consequences of unsoundness of mind,
  • The capability of giving valid consent.
  • Males must attain 21 years and above; females must attain the age of 18 and above.

Section 6 of the Special Marriages Act lays down that the marriage official shall put up a notice for the same and any person can put up objections within 30 days to the marriage officer.

Section 7 of the Act relates to objection to marriages any person may come to the marriage officer to object the marriage on the ground that contravenes one or more conditions specified in the section 4 chapter 1 of special marriage act.

This is a brief discussion about the Act to give the reader a holistic approach to understand the nuances of the condition. Now we will be looking into the privacy aspect and the concerns that are being raised.

Recently, the 9 Judges bench in KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India, ruled that privacy is to be protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 as a part of freedom guaranteed by Part 3 of the constitution. And it can be only taken away by the procedure established by law and it should be just, fair and reasonable.

There are several marriages act including the Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage Act. In all the above marriage acts, there is sanctification that is being provided by the state as well as the society because they are the main stakeholders of marriage not just because they are involved into it but also because the legal rights and obligations that are being provided after the marriage are sanctified and other rights that are being intact to or after marriage.

For example, in Hindu marriage, there is a ritual called kanyadaan wherein the father of the female gives her daughter to the men and his family and the male counterpart take the baraat to the girl’s family. This process is done mainly to get the sanctification and validation from the community members as well as the society.

But when it comes to Special Marriages Act, nothing of that thing is been done and the information that is being raised under Section 5 to put up a notice is merely done to get the objections only under Section 4 of the special marriages act this provision, in my opinion, is truly in tune with the conventional and traditional credos of marriage.

Otherwise, there are several other options like cohabitation wherein not a single member of the society is going to question on the living status of the couple but when a marriage is taking place there is a necessary involvement of the community member as well as the society.

All that is being asked in Section 4 of the Special Marriages Act is the basic information that has to be provided to the marriage officer and the objections will be entertained only if that goes against the realm of Section 4 of the bare act. (AS Said by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in a verdict of 2018).

In my opinion, prime facie, it looks that there is no infringement of privacy on the part of this act and it is high time now that the centre should enact or make the positive injunction injected by making a law on Uniform Civil Code which is given under Article 44 of the constitution. That will help to consolidate all the marriage acts making it one, that will help in streamlining the marriages in India.

Even the apex court of the country has several times raised this concern to make a Uniform Civil Code in various cases like Shah Bano, Sarla Mudgal and Justice Vikram. It also said the same in the 2015 Christian divorce case.

At the cessation, I would like to quote the words of justice Vikram Singh Slathia which is very apt in today’s situation. It is “without a uniform civil court labelling India to be a secular nation is just an illusion. Uniform civil code is necessary for India so that the same laws are valid for every citizen without taking religion into consideration.”

You must be to comment.

More from VIVEK RAJ

Similar Posts


By Swati Gupta

By Javed Abidi Foundation

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below