SC refers to Constitution Bench plea over conversion of Parsi woman

SUPREME-COURTA bench said that it will have to consider whether the five-judge bench judgement in the triple talaq matter can also have some bearing in the present case.

The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a Constitution Bench the question whether a Parsi woman can keep her religious identity intact after getting married to someone from another faith under the Special Marriage Act.

“Regard being had to the importance of the matter, we think it appropriate to refer the matter to the Constitution Bench,” a three-judge Bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ordered.

Senior advocates Indira Jaising argued that denying a woman respect and the right to observe her religion merely because she married outside her faith was violative of her fundamental right to religion enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution.

A woman’s identity is not merged with that of her husband on marriage, Ms. Jaising argued.

Ms. Jaising argued that the ‘doctrine of coverture,’ which holds that a woman loses her identity and legal right with marriage, is violative of her fundamental rights. The doctrine is not recognised by the Indian Constitution.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Goolrokh M. Gupta, a Parsi woman, against Gujarat High Court’s March 23, 2012 judgment. The HC held that Goolrokh Adi Contractor ceased to be a Parsi as she had married Mahipal Gupta, a Hindu, under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act.

The Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust, which opposed her plea, said the HC decided the case after going through the affidavits of at least seven Parsi priests saying that the religious tenets holds that she ceases to be a Zorastrian upon her marriage to a Hindu and cannot be allowed to offer prayers in a Zorastrian place of worship.

Published on The Hindu