New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain an appeal by Haryana government against the Punjab and Haryana High Court order, granting a marriage certificate under the Special Marriage Act 1954, through video conferencing, as the wife was unable to travel from the US to India due to the Covid restrictions.
A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian observed: “Law has to march along with technology.”
The bench noted the Act was enacted in 1954, whereas the computer and the Internet came many years later. “Where there is difficulty, the letter of law cannot be so rigid that it makes it impossible for the parties to follow,” it said.
The bench orally observed the government departments should facilitate the parties and not to create obstruction or hurdles for them.
The top court, in its order, said: “We do not deem it appropriate to interfere with the practical directions given by the High Court by its impugned judgment and order. The special leave petition is, accordingly, dismissed. The order of the Division Bench shall be complied with within 45 days from date. Pending applications, if any, stand disposed of accordingly.”
The husband was represented by senior advocate Navniti Prasad Singh and advocate Anup Jain in the top court.
Haryana had moved the top court, challenging the March 9 judgment of the high court.
The couple had solemnised their marriage on December 17, 2019, in Gurugram and later, returned to their respective workplaces in the UK and the US.
They moved an application for registration of their marriage before the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Marriage Officer, Gurugram.
The marriage officer called the couple to appear before him on April 3, 2020, but they could not return to India due to travel restrictions. The husband made an application in August 2020 to the Marriage Officer requesting second motion hearing may also be conducted through video conference. This request was rejected on September 11, 2020.
The husband said his wife is a medical professional and she has been put on Covid-19 emergency duty and he can go to the US to meet her, but for that purpose, he has to attach a marriage certificate along with an application for obtaining visa. Against this backdrop, on account of lack of marriage certificate, parties are facing unprecedented hardship. The couple challenged this order before a single judge at the high court.
The single judge, while dismissing their petition, held that as per the provisions of the Act, procedure prescribed for registration of the marriage requires that parties should be present in person along with two witnesses. However, the division bench allowed the appeal by the couple.