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A couple displays wedding ringsReuters

The Madras High Court has upheld the amendment made in the year 1968 to simplify Hindu marriages by allowing legalised 'self-respect' marriages which are conducted without a priest.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam in its recent order said "the Hindu religion by itself is pluralist in character and thus various forms of marriage have traditionally existed depending on the area and the custom prevalent therein."

The bench dismissed a PIL filed by A Asuvathaman, an advocate, against the amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act. "Section 7-A (inserted by Tamil Nadu government in 1968) provides for a particular kind of marriage "Suyamariyathai" (self-respect) marriages among two Hindus. It has also stood the test of time now for nearly half a century", the judges said.

"It was the state of Tamil Nadu which legalised the Suyamariyathai marriages, which simplified conducting of marriages without Brahmin priests and the couple going seven steps around the fire 47 years ago", the judges said, according to a PTI report.

The advocate had claimed in his PIL that "Suyamariuathai" weddings are not in conformity with the customary rites and ceremonies and wanted the amendment of 1968 annulled.

DMK founder C N. Annadurai as Chief Minister in 1967 signed the first file legalising self-respect marriages. In 1968, it became an Act by introduction of section 7A amendment to Hindu Marriages Act.

The HC judges, quoting a Supreme Court judgement, said that "the amendment inserted by Tamil Nadu applies to any marriage between two Hindus solemnised in the presence of relatives, friends or other persons."