Updated January 19th, 2024 at 21:17 IST
Delhi High Court Issues Guidelines for Interfaith Marriages Involving Religious Conversion
Delhi High Court, on Friday, issued guidelines for interfaith marriages involving religious conversion. Check the guidelines below.
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court, in a ruling on Friday, specified that an individual undergoing religious conversion to marry someone from a different faith must provide a sworn affidavit, declaring awareness of the consequences and implications of the new religion concerning divorce, custody, succession, and religious rights.
The court outlined comprehensive guidelines to be adhered to by authorities in cases of interfaith marriages after conversion, as well as for documenting the statements of sexual assault victims under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
According to the judgment, a certificate detailing the tenets, rituals, and expectations of religious conversion, as well as the implications and consequences related to marital matters, divorce, succession, custody, and religious rights must accompany the conversion certificate.
The court mandated that this certificate should also be available in an additional vernacular language understood by the prospective convert, serving as proof of their comprehension.
These measures aim to ensure that individuals making such conversions for marriage are fully informed about the various aspects of their new religion, particularly about legal and personal matters.
The court said, “The same be in Hindi also where the language spoken and understood by the prospective convert is Hindi, in addition to any other language preferred to be used by such authority. Where the language spoken and understood by the prospective convert is other than Hindi, the said language can be used."
The court additionally specified that an affidavit providing details about age, marital history, marital status, and supporting evidence must be submitted.
This affidavit should explicitly state that the conversion is taking place voluntarily after a comprehensive understanding of the implications and consequences related to marital matters, including divorce, succession, custody, and religious rights.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma clarified that these directions do not apply to individuals reverting to their original religion, as they are already familiar with their original faith.
Moreover, the court emphasised that these guidelines do not apply to marriages conducted under the Special Marriage Act, of 1954. This distinction ensures that the outlined requirements specifically pertain to cases involving religious conversion for marriage and not to other marriage scenarios governed by different legal frameworks.
The court said, “These guidelines are for ensuring well-informed decision on the part of the naive, uneducated, susceptible, adolescent couples who may enter into such unions after conversions, without fully comprehending the profound implications of such a conversion, impact of which extends far beyond the immediate union, encompassing a myriad of consequences on their personal laws and various facets of life."
Guidelines on the recording of Section 164 CrPC statements:
- Statement should not be recorded mechanically or in a typed performa. It must be recorded in the language understood by the victim;
- Victim must be produced before the magistrate at the earliest. Before recording the statement, the Investigating Officer (IC) will identify the victim. The magistrate must record that the IO left the chamber/room after identification;
- Magistrate must interact with victim to make preliminary inquiries by putting age appropriate and educational background appropriate questions to adjudge the competence of the victim to depose and give rational answers;
- Questions must reflect the state of mind of the victim by inquiries as to whether he/she is aware about his/her surroundings, the purpose of making the statement and before whom and why he/she is making the statement;
- Questions must also reflect that the statement is being made voluntarily without any threat, pressure, fear, influence, coercion or tutoring;
- In case of child victims, the Magistrate must satisfy that he or she understands the sanctity of oath, and in case of tender age, may dispense with administering oath;
- Preliminary inquiries as well as the statements must be in vernacular and should not typed stereotyped performa;
- Words and language used by the victim must be written in the statement verbatim. The act of sexual assault explained and described by the victim must be written as it is, instead of writing ‘wrong act‘ which becomes a bone of contention at the time of trial;
- Magistrate must append a certificate at the end of the statement recorded under Section 164 of CrPC regarding the statement being made voluntarily and the same being the true and exact statement made by the victim and that nothing has been added or subtracted;
- The certificate at the end of the statement must also mention that the statement was read over and explained to the victim and the victim has put his/her signatures in token of its correctness. The signatures or thumb impression, must be taken inside the chamber/room and in presence of the Magistrate;
- If the statement has been typed by a stenographer or an interpreter, which should not be the norm but an exception for reasons to be mentioned in the statement, it will be added that the statement was typed at the dictation of the Magistrate and is the true content of the statement made by the victim.
Published January 19th, 2024 at 21:17 IST