The Kerala High Court has come to the aid of a lawyer couple, one of them in the UK, by permitting the online solemnisation of their marriage as the groom was unable to come to India due to the Omicron-related travel restrictions.
When 25-year old lawyer Rintu Thomas and her fiance -- Anantha Krishnan Harikumaran Nair -- decided to get married more than a month ago, they never thought the latest COVID-19 variant Omicron could put a spanner in the works.
Mr Nair, who is in the UK for higher studies, had booked tickets to come to India on December 22 for the wedding scheduled on December 23, but due to the worldwide Omicron outbreak he was not in a position to travel.
In these circumstances, Ms Thomas moved the high court seeking a direction to the state of Kerala and the Marriage Officer, in the Sub-Registrar's office at Malayinkeezhu in Thiruvananthapuram, to permit them to conduct their marriage via virtual or online mode.
According to her plea, they had given notice of the intended union on November 11 as per the requirements of the Special Marriage Act which mandates a 30-day notice period before the wedding.
Providing relief to the couple, Justice N Nagaresh said that during the pandemic when parties to a marriage could not appear in person before the Marriage Officer, the high court had permitted online solemnisation of their weddings.
"I find no reason to deny the benefit extended to other parties to the petitioner and her fiance," the judge said.
The court directed the Marriage Officer to solemnise the couple's marriage or register the marriage, as the case may be, through online mode subject to the conditions that the witnesses will be physically present before the official and shall identify the parties who are online.
It said that the Marriage Officer shall fix the date and time of the marriage as well as the online platform to be used and shall convey the same to the parties in advance.
The court also directed the Marriage Officer to comply with its directions as expeditiously as possible on completion of the statutory formalities.