Requirement as to Notices Under Cochin Christian Civil Marriage Act Can Be Waived on Equitable Grounds and Peculiar Circumstances: Kerala High Court

Facts

The 1st Petitioner belonging to the Roman Catholic church has a bachelor’s degree in dental surgery (BDS) had consented the marring the 2nd Petitioner, a citizen of the U.S. This marriage had the consent of both parties and was decided by their respective families. On 17th May 2019, they got engaged, and the marriage had been scheduled to happen on 15th May 2020. Unfortunately, the marriage had to be postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic surge. Both the Petitioners agreed for their marriage to be scheduled on 15th May 2021, and the2nd Petitioner had to return to the U.S. on or before 5th June 2021 due to the expiry of his visa. 

Lack of time to invoke the rules of the Special Marriage Act,1954, the Petitioners decided to solemnize their marriage under the Cochin Christian Civil Marriage Act of 1920. The Petitioners provided the notice to the 2nd Respondent on 25th May 2021, as the office of Respondent 3 was not functioning on the day. However, there was no response from the Respondents with regard to the notice mentioned above. Hence the Petitioners have filed the civil writ petition before the Honourable High Court of Kerala.        

Arguments before the Court

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The Petitioners were represented by Advocates Franklin Arackal, assisted by P.D. Jayan Mon and M.B Sorri. The counsel for the Petitioners argued that the 2nd Respondent did not take any action after he received the notice dated 25th May 2021, requesting the authority to solemnize the marriage. The notice was sent to the 2nd Respondent because of the non-functioning of 3d Respondent. They prayed to the court that the 3rd Respondent himself might carry on the solemnization request as he had resumed work. They put forth the fact that the 2nd Petitioner had to fly back to his home country. 

The Respondents were represented by the government pleader Smt. Princy Xavier claimed that the Petitioners had failed to show the urgency in the present matter for relief. The council also highlighted the fact that there was no customary practice of marriage between the parties, and hence the court could not grant the relief sought by the Petitioners. The Honourable Court recorded the submission of both the counsel for Petitioner as well as Respondent. 

Court’s Observation

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The Court observed that the Petitioners sought the solemnizing request under section 7 of the Cochin Christian Civil Marriage Act,1920. The ignorance or carelessness was observed on the 2nd Respondent as one act of publication of notice by the 2nd Respondent would have solemnized the marriage between the Petitioner under section 19 of the act above. Along with the above, the court also observed that the marriage between the Petitioners could not be postponed even more as the Indian society considers the same as ominous. Human life and belief were placed at a higher importance. 

Court’s Judgement

The learned single Judge passed an order in the writ petition directing the 3rd Respondent to complete the procedure needful for solemnizing the marriage between 1st and the 2nd Petitioner. This court declared that human life and relations have to move o and prevail upon the virus. The court declared that the rules mentioned in the Cochin Christian Civil marriage act could be waived inequitable and peculiar circumstances. The writ petition was thereby disposed of. 

Click here to view the Judgement.


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