In a landmark decision by the Supreme Court, a Parsi woman, who was barred from entering fire temples and Towers of Silence after marrying outside the community, was on Thursday granted the right to enter a Parsi temple in Gujarat.
The woman, Goolrukh Gupta, had approached the apex court challenging an Ahmedabad high court order.
The five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was hearing the case.
Earlier in the week, the court had asked the Parsi Anjuman in Gujarat’s Valsad to consider Gupta’s plea and allow her to attend the funeral of her father as and when he passes away.
Observing she hasn’t “surrendered her affection to father”, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked senior counsel Gopal Subramanium to speak to his client on permitting the petitioner to attend the funeral of her father in Anjuman.
Further observing that “DNA does not evaporates” after marrying outside the religion, the court said that “marrying under the Special Marriage Act is only for the retention of original identity”.
“A man marries outside the community and is permitted to retain his religious identity and a woman is not allowed to marry outside and retain her religious identity. How can a woman be debarred,” the bench had further observed.
According to reports, in 2012, the Gujarat high court said that under the Special Marriage Act, she had ceased to be a Parsi and that her religion automatically changed to that of her husband.
She, however, continued to practise Zoroastrianism and challenged the high court verdict on the grounds that the Special Marriage Act does not require either husband or wife to renounce their religion.
Image used for representational purposes. Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters