SC To Consider Parsi Woman’s Plea To Religious Identity Post Inter-caste Marriage

The Supreme Court today agreed to examine whether a Parsi woman can be deprived of her religious identity, acquired by virtue of her birth, after marrying a man of another religion. The apex court was dealing with an appeal challenging Gujarat High Court’s March 2012 verdict that held that a Parsi woman, by contracting a civil marriage with a non­-Parsi, under the Special Marriage Act, would cease to be a Parsi.

It had also been held that she would be deemed to have acquired the religion of her husband unless a declaration was made by a court for continuation of her Parsi status. A Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Dipak Misra, observed that the issue dealt with the ‘religious identity’ of a woman.

“We are actually dealing with identity. Presently, it is about religious identity because before marriage, you were a Parsi and you say after marrying a Hindu man, that I cannot be deprived of my identity by virtue of birth and my identity by religion,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagoudar, said. “There has to be a broader canvass of understanding,” the bench observed, and fixed the matter for hearing in the first week of August, 2017. The counsel appearing for the petitioner said the issue that required consideration was whether a woman, after her marriage, is deemed to have acquired the religion of her husband.

The petitioner, a Parsi woman, had approached Gujarat High Court, contending that even after her marriage to a Hindu, she had continued to follow the Zoroastrian religion and so, had the right to enjoy all privileges under it, including the right to offer prayers at Agiary that holds the ‘holy fire’, and the ‘tower of silence’. She argued that her rights as a Parsi Zoroastrian could not be denied on the ground that she had married a non-Parsi; and that a male Parsi Zoroastrian continues to enjoy all the rights available to a born Parsi even if he marries a non-Parsi Zoroastrian woman.

(Courtesy: The Telegraph, PTI)

Leave a Reply