Central Information Commission (CIC):While laying emphasis upon the responsibility of the Government to prevent fraudulent or illegal or invalid marriages on one hand and to protect genuine lovers from the violence of parents and caste/religious heads on the other, CIC recommended both, Union and State Governments, to consider to incorporate a column or leave sufficient space for declaration in the application form for registration about reasonably apprehended threat to their life or liberty for exercising their choice and request for protection, and direct Marriage Officers to get the report from the concerned Station Housing Officer after due enquiry of the allegations of threat and secure their lives, if SHO concludes the threat is prima facie real, or take any other adequate measures to offer protection to would be partners. Said order of the Commission was issued while hearing an appeal filed by a person who sought information on rules and procedure for solemnization of marriage and its registration under Special Marriage Act. He stated that due to immaturity, young boys and girls take hasty decisions and enter into bad marriages and as the parents generally apprehend the repercussions of immature decisions, they must be informed about proposed registration of marriages of their children and about their selection of life partner. Appellant further stated that it is essential that public notice should be published on the official website of public authority so that any person is given adequate information to challenge such marriages, if entitled. The Commission concurred with the contentions of appellant but also pondered upon the negative angle of the matter. “Violent social consequences of inter-caste and inter-religious love marriages cannot be ignored. The khap panchayats and their mandates coupled with honour killings are shocking developments emanating from the exercise of freedom of choice of life partner. If right of parents to (information) have notice of marriage of their children is honored, it might result in deprivation of their life or liberty, in gross violation of Article 21,” noted the Commission. CIC also laid emphasis upon the provisions of “the Prohibition of unlawful Assembly (interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliance) Bill, 2011”, which was proposed to target the said problem and declared all offences under it as cognizable and non-compoundable. CIC recommended that as the Bill has lapsed, Government can take up the draft Bill with necessary changes. While concluding the judgment, the Commission, as per Section 19(8)(a)(iv), also directed the public authority i.e., the Marriage Officers or SDMs, to:
“a) incorporate declaration about apprehended threat in the application form, and provision for due enquiry by SHO,
b) provide necessary protection in the standard operative practice or procedure,
c) add a warning against assaulting the liberty of would be partners in the form of Order for solemnization & registration of marriage, and
d) ensure wide reach to the mandatory Orders to be issued under law, by placing the same on the official website, in an easily accessible link, highlighting under the title of ‘marriage registration notices’ as that is mandatory duty of public authorities under Section 4(1)(d) to facilitate the interested persons (including parents or guardians) to know and raise objections, if any, to safeguard the interests of the partners to the proposed marriage.”[Shashi v. PIO, Sub Divisional Magistrate (Civil Lines), 2016 SCC OnLine CIC 10959, decided on August 1, 2016]

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