Under the Special Marriage Act, can children from the first marriage contest the legitimacy of the second? SC agrees to look into it.

After the woman’s husband’s children from his first marriage went to court and said the marriage was illegitimate, a Supreme Court bench issued notice to the government and two parties to address the matter of interpretation of the Special Marriage Act.

The children from his first marriage moved to court thirteen years after a Muslim woman married a Hindu man under the Special Marriage Act, claiming the marriage was null and void.

According to the petitioner, the lady, the Special Marriage Act (SMA) was enacted to safeguard spouses from social pressure, and the Act expressly states that only the two spouses can object to a marriage once it has been registered.

There are many intricacies in the case’s facts and arguments, having both legal and social significance. The subject of property inheritance was highlighted in the case heard on Thursday by Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice V Ramasubramaniam.

The man died in 2015, and his children sued in 2016, alleging that their “stepmother” was not legally married to their father because her divorce from her first spouse was invalid. The woman in issue divorced her first Muslim husband in 1982 and married her second Hindu husband in 2003.

Huzefa Ahmadi, a senior counsel who represented the woman in court, contended that the first wife’s children have “no locus standi whatsoever” to contest the marriage. Ahmadi maintained that the marriage was registered under the Special Marriage Act.

According to the senior lawyer, the SMA was intended precisely to “protect and register marriage.” Sections 4, 24, and 25 of the SMA make it plain that only spouses can contest the legitimacy of a marriage.

He further noted that the appeal was filed 14 years after the marriage was solemnized and registered under the Special Marriage He contended that the woman’s first husband should have been made a party to the family court case since “the matter would likewise have a material impact on his life.”

Mukul Rohatgi, a senior counsel who represents the children, argued that the family court case was about access to the inheritance. “The father’s second marriage was illegal since the wife had not divorced the first husband lawfully. “It’s a void marriage,” Mukul Rohatgi stated.

The court also noted that the case involves a significant legal question.

“Their inheritance was in question dependent on the legitimacy of the second marriage,” the justices observed for the husband’s legal heirs.

“Do legal heirs have no remedy?” inquired the court

The bench has now given both parties and the government notice to consider the matter of the Special Marriage Act’s interpretation. “It is necessary to analyse the overlap between Section 24 and Section 25. (void marriage)

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