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Lucknow: In a judgement that is likely to bring relief to inter-faith couples, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday declared as optional the mandatory requirement to give written notice of the marriage to the district officer.

The court said making publication of such notices mandatory "would invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy".

It would also affect the couple's freedom to choose marriage "without interference from State and non-state actors", Justice Vivek Chaudhary said.

He said it shall be optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the marriage officer to publish or not to publish such a notice.

If the couple did not intend so, the marriage officer has to solemnise their marriage forthwith without publication of the 30 days’ notice, the court said.

The court passed the order following a petition by a Muslim woman who converted to Hinduism to marry a Hindu man. The petition said her father was not permitting her to live with her husband.

In his judgment, Justice Chaudhary observed that the couple had expressed views that they could have solemnized their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, which requires the 30-day notice that invites objections from the public at large. "They expressed views that any such notice would be an invasion in their privacy and would have definitely caused unnecessary social pressure/interference in their free choice with regard to their marriage," the judge said.

The judgement comes against the backdrop of a recent controversial law enacted by the Uttar Pradesh government which prohibits forcible conversion for the sake of marriage.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, prohibits conversion of religion by marriage to be unlawful.

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