Marriage, commonly also known as matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between two people that establishes rights and obligations between them, their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies around the world, not only between cultures and between religions, but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. Over time, it has expanded and also constricted who and what is encompassed and the level of importance attached to it has also changed over the period of time. Individuals, irrespective of the religion or geographical area they belong to, espouse to get into such a union for legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes.
The significance of marriage in an individual’s life has been recognised by international as well as local institutions. Article 16 of the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
Celibacy, on the other hand, is the state of voluntarily abstaining from marriage and sexual relations. Such an abstinence is usually done for religious purposes but no religion can impose celibacy on an individual, which is a matter of choice. No individual can be legally or even forced by the State in any capacity to either marry or remain a celibate and our Constitution, in the form of fundamental rights under Part III, has bestowed upon us the right to freedom of choice. ‘Right to marry’ has been recognised in numerous case laws with Mohammad Sharef Hajam and ors v. State and ors, Simran Choudhary and ors v. State of Jammu and Kashmir and ors, Arunkumar and Ors . vs . The Inspector General of Registration and Ors being some of them. ‘Right to marry’ comes under the ambit of the golden triangle, that is, Article 14, 19 and 21 has been recognised as a fundamental right.
In Commissioner, Corporation of Chennai v. Secretary, Department of water supply and anr, the Madras High Court in a landmark judgment upheld ‘matrimony and celibacy as one’s choice’ and directed the Corporation of Chennai to pay aggravated damages to a victim of their negligence. In the present case, due to negligence on the part of the Corporation, an electric pole fell on an individual on a pathway, as a result of which he became full-time disabled. Not only did the court pay him damages for the loss of income for life due to such negligence, they additionally granted aggravated damages worth Rs. 63, 26, 000 for pain and suffering caused since he is unable to marry due to refusal on the part of women to marry a crippled man, loss of amenities and other medical expenses. The court not only recognised that negligent act of the Government has resulted in the violation of his fundamental right to marry compelling him to remain a celibate out of no choice, but furthermore directed the Government to heavily pay for such a negligence towards the violation of a fundamental right, giving due recognition to it.
The Indian Judiciary from time to time has safeguarded the Constitution and the fundamental rights of the people against arbitrary or unfair actions or omissions resulting in violation of people’s guaranteed fundamental rights. It continues to instil faith amongst the people in the institution of justice.
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