KOCHI (TIP): The Kerala high court on Tuesday ruled that marriage preceded by conversion – as a means to facilitate the marriage – will be deemed invalid before the law. It also controversially ordered the woman to stay with her parents until their marriage was solemnized in accordance with the Special Marriage Act, considering she is not a minor. The court gave the order after hearing the case of a Muslim man and a Hindu woman whose marriage was solemnized with the backing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) after the man ‘converted’ to Hinduism.
The man had produced a conversion certificate issued by the VHP and the marriage certificate was issued by a well-known temple in Kaloor. Refusing to recognize religious conversion as the basis for marriage, a division bench comprising justices Pius C Kuriakose and Babu Mathew P Joseph asked the couple to register their marriage according to the Special Marriage Act. This was after Shaiju M (24) of Vilakkupara, near Anchal in Kollam district, filed a petition alleging that his wife, Ashwathy Raveendran (22) of Vayala in Anchal, was being detained by her father and uncle. Following the court’s direction, Ashwathy was presented before the court by her parents.
She told the court that her marriage with Shaiju took place on November 14 this year at Pavakkulam Sree Mahadeva Temple at Kaloor. Prior to this, Shaiju was converted to Hinduism by the VHP, she told the court. Ashwathy’s father K Raveendran objected to the groom’s overnight conversion from Islam to Hinduism. He also told the court that there was considerable social and financial disparity between the two families. “Having considered what we are told by the parties present before us, we feel that it is not safe to rely on the conversion of the petitioner from Islam to Hinduism stated to have been under the auspices (sic) of VHP,” the bench said. Shaiju said he will now pursue the course offered by the court, to marry under the Special Marriage Act, to restore his rights.