Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Allahabad HC orders probe into Arya Samaj marriage certificates

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The Allahabad High Court has recently said that the purpose of issuing Arya Samaj marriage certificate is merely to facilitate runaway boys and girls to lend legitimacy to their claim without determining their identity and without ascertaining their age etc. with the sole purpose of securing protection for them.

The Division Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice  Rajnish Kumar directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Prayagraj to investigate the manner and methodology of functioning of Arya Samaj Kydganj, Prayagraj through its alleged Pradhan Santosh Kumar Shastri while issuing a marriage certificate. 

The Bench further directed that an enquiry would be got conducted as to whether the marriages in fact are being performed or it is just issuing empty certificates of marriage. Santosh Kumar Shastri is also directed to produce registers of all the marriages, which have been got solemnized by him over last five years, particularly ever since the specific restraint order was passed against him on 10.8.2016. The enquiry in the matter would be by an officer not below the rank of Circle Officer. 

The report of the enquiry conducted in the matter shall be placed on record by way of an affidavit filed by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Prayagraj, by the next date fixed. 

“The possibility of an organized racket working for extraneous reasons cannot be ruled out, in which involvement/assistance of others are possible.”  In the event the activities of the person are not found to be fair and just, it will be open for the authorities to initiate appropriate action, as may be warranted in law, against the person concerned, the bench clarified.

Meanwhile, the Court ordered that the restraint order passed earlier against Santosh Kumar Shastri and also the Oath Commissioner, who has indiscriminately sworn the affidavit even before the marriage was allegedly performed, as has been noticed in our previous order passed in the  petition, shall continue.

The High Court passed these directions during the hearing of a petition filed by one Kapil Kumar. It is observed by the Court that this is a serious matter. Though the petitioner before the Court claims that he has solemnized marriage with the private respondent  and therefore lodgement of FIR against him is bad in law, but it is the claim of marriage, which itself troubles the Court.

The petitioner’s claim of marriage itself is based upon a marriage certificate issued by one Santosh Kumar Shastri claiming himself to be Pradhan of Arya Samaj Krishna Nagar, Prayagraj. He claims to have performed the marriage in his capacity as the priest and has solemnized the marriage. 

The High Court is flooded with the petitions in which such certificates are issued by Santosh Kumar Shastri and a day would not pass when some of such certificates issued by person concerned is not made the basis for issuance of a marriage certificate.

What troubles the Court is the issuance of marriage certificate by Santosh Kumar Shastri in respect of persons, who are not even known to him nor are identified by any responsible person. “The said Santosh Kumar Shastri has been issuing certificates, which forms the basis for registration of marriage or for other similar purposes. In most of the these matters, the girls are minor and on the basis of Aadhaar Card, the marriages are being registered. It is settled that Aadhaar Card is based on the declaration made by the person himself/herself, as such in absence of any reliable material the same would not constitute any valid basis to determine the age,” the Bench observed.

In the event any future dispute arises between the parties it would be very difficult to determine the factum of marriage in the manner certificates are being issued by the person concerned. The Court noted that these young boys and girls enter into their relationships very often due to infatuation or other reasons, which may be for limited period. 

“The difficulty we see for these youngsters is that if their relationships break, there is none to support them. The families distance them and apparently there are no other social security mechanism in place for these young girls. The Constitution respects their freedom but the Court, while granting them protection, also has the obligation to secure them from any possible ills,” the order reads.

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  1. A very serious and delicate issue regarding the protection of minors, government should take more strict actions related to this social issue. Also the if constitution gives us some right then it also have imparted certain duties and obligation which we as citizens have to follow. In order to gain more information related to the legal provisions concerning minor, visit LedX website as they provide all information related to law.

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