Parsi woman asks SC: Will Parsi woman be deprived of their religion if they marry a non-Parsi?

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A 46 year old Parsi lady Goolrukh M. Gupta, nee Contractor asked the Supreme Court, can a woman be prohibited to follow her religion if she marries another religion guy? Should she be forced to follow her husband’s religion?  Is it right if her religious places bar her from offering prayers for marrying a non-Parsi?  These questions were asked by Goolrukh in her plea where she challenged the earlier judgement of Gujarat High Court in which the HC had upheld the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust’s decision barring her to offer prayers at Agiyari as she had married a non-Parsi guy i.e. a Hindu.

On April 28 Supreme Court had agreed to hear her plea.  Since Goolrukh has aged parents and so had moved High Court after knowing that another Parsi lady Dilbar Valvi was also not permitted to attend her father’s funeral and mother as she had married a non-Parsi, i.e. a Hindu.  Valsad Parsi Anjuman had taken the ground that she was no more a Parsi and so she had no rights to enter the Parsi place of funeral.

Anjuman’s view about this decision was upheld by High Court by two to one majority.  Goolrukh said in her petition that High Court’s judgment was very grave disrespect to India’s constitutional order which decrees observance to basic human rights and dignity.  Religious freedom and gender equality is also offended.

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This decision shows us the ancient feudal notion where women were regarded as chattels and clearly reflects the men’s domination over women were the contentions of Goolrookh.  Women’s right and empowerment that is talked about by majority is also of no use if HC gives such a judgement.

No law in India states that a woman should adopt her husband’s name or religion after her marriage was Goolrukh’s contention.  She further argued that Special Marriage Act 1954 enables 2 persons to marry who are from different religion and they need not renounce their religion or convert in order to marry or after marriage.

She argued that this judgment can be used against all those women who marry outside their religion in future and she also said that Agiyaris situated in other places like Delhi, Kanpur, Chennai, Kolkata, Jabalpur, Daman Vadodara, London, Ontario, Florida, etc do not prohibit women to enter and offer prayers at any of the Agiyaris just because they married a non-Parsi.

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By Sushma Javare