Thanks to an ‘internal circular’, couples in Tamil Nadu marrying under the Hindu marriage law now need their parents’ permission to get married.
The circular, passed from the office of the inspector general of registration, Tamil Nadu, includes a list of documents to be provided by the couple at the time of registering their marriage. The document states that the initials and address of the parents given in the application should match the details contained in the accompanying documentary proof. It also requires the death certificate of the parents if they are no longer alive.
While the list may seem harmless, it isn’t really.
Couples without access to their parents’ original documents will inevitably have to seek their permission to get the requisite papers. So, for a couple in Tamil Nadu marrying without their parents’ consent or those undergoing an inter-faith marriage against the wish of their folks, this requirement becomes a major impediment. The circular looks at the wishes of two consenting adults to get married through a paternalistic lens, putting the privilege of deciding on marriage in the hands of their parents.
Legal experts have also shown their disdain for the new requirement. The Hindu quotes Indira Jaising as having said, “Registrars under a State Act or Hindu Marriage Act cannot insist on that [parental consent to register a marriage], and consent of parents cannot be demanded if two persons are of the age of marriage.”
Jaising further added that, “The tragedy is the Hindu Marriage Act nowhere asks for consent of the woman herself as a condition of a valid marriage. Who knows, maybe, they still think a daughter is “given away” by the father as kanyadaan.”
Her observation is genuinely thought-provoking. Instead of addressing what the concept of Hindu marriage really needs to adopt, that is, the consent of the actual woman involved, the circular has gone back to the concept of asking for the ‘blessings’, or at least, for all practical purposed, the permission, of the parents regardless of a couple’s circumstances. Does anyone else feel like we’re moving swiftly and sneakily backwards?