Court cancels registration of marriage
RAMLAKHAN of the Brahmin caste, the highest of the Hindu castes proceeded to marry Ramdai a Chamar, which is a low caste, because the relatives of the applicant would not agree to the wedding.
But after the secret ceremony, which really was a sham, got shattered when a relative of the Chamar reneging from the promise of a gift of land and house to the Brahmin applicant, the latter applied to the Court for an order that the registration of an immigrant of the Hindu religion on February 12, 1962, between the applicant and the respondent Ramdai under the provisions of the aforesaid Ordinance be cancelled and that the Immigration Agent General be directed to cancel the said registration.
The facts disclosed that the parties, who were both Indian immigrants of the Hindu religion, signed a document before a Pandit with the object of thereby contracting a marriage. No ceremony was however performed and no marriage vows exchanged.
Chief Justice J. A. Luckhoo who heard the motion by the applicant in 1962, held that:
“(i) It is sufficient to constitute a valid marriage ceremony according to Hindu personal and religious law if marriage vows are exchanged before a Pandit in the presence of two witnesses,
(ii) There was no valid marriage in this case and the registration would accordingly be cancelled.”
Mr. J. O. F. Haynes, Q. C, appeared for the applicant while
Mr. R. N. Trim represented the respondent.
According to Chief Justice Luckhoo: ”This is a motion on the part of the applicant also known as Ramlakhan Seepersaud under Section161 of the Indian Labour Ordinance , Cap. 104, for an order that the registration of a marriage made by the Immigration Agent General on the 12th of February 1962 between the applicant and the respondent Ramdai, under the provisions of the aforesaid Ordinance be cancelled and that the Immigration Agent General be directed to cancel the said registration.”
“The grounds upon which the applicant seeks the order for cancellation are:
(a)That no marriage ceremony was performed in accordance with the religious and personal law (the Hindu Law) of the parties as required by the provisions of Section 142 of the Indian Labour Ordinance Cap. 104 on February 12, 1962, or on any other date.
(b) No witness was present or signed any document in the presence of the applicant.
“The applicant and the respondent both profess the Hindu religion and are subject to the same personal law. They had known each other for about four or five years prior to November 1961, when the applicant asked the respondent to marry him . He explained to her that his parents would not agree to their marrying and suggested that they should marry secretly. The applicant and his family are of the Brahmin caste, the highest of Hindu castes. “His brother, S.S. Tiwari, is a Hindu priest. The respondent is a Chamar, that is to say she is of low caste. So it is not difficult to appreciate why the applicant suggested a secret wedding. The applicant was then residing with his mother and his brother Pandit S.S Tiwari at Albion Front, Corentyne. The respondent agreed to a secret marriage being performed.
“Pandit Ramsaywack Sharma, a Hindu priest, was approached by the parties to marry them according to Hindu rites. There is a conflict in the evidence as to how the approach came to be made to Pandit Sharma.”
“According to the applicant it was the respondent’s brother-in-law Basil who suggested that they should take their birth certificates to Pandit Sharma and arrange with him to have the marriage performed.”
“The applicant also stated that Basil promised to give him a house and rice lands and early in January 1962 he (applicant) and the respondent took their birth certificates to Pandit Sharma. On the 25th January, 1962, they returned to the Pandit’s home where they signed a document which he and the respondent considered to be the performance of the marriage.”
“On that night he slept with the respondent at Basil’s home and had sexual intercourse with her.”
“The next day he returned to his mother’s home and has never lived again with the respondent.”
“About two weeks after the 25th January, 1962, he realised that Basil would not give him a house and rice lands. The applicant has stated that had Basil given him house and rice lands he would have lived together with the respondent and would not have brought these proceedings.”
“He has also sworn that his brother Pandit S.S Tiwari told him to bring these proceedings. The applicant has also sworn that on the 12th February, 1962, he did not go with the respondent to Pandit Sharma and that no ceremony was performed on that day nor on any other day.”
“The respondent has sworn that after the applicant had proposed marriage to her he arranged that they should travel to New Amsterdam on the following day and be married at the Immigration Office.”
“They travelled to New Amsterdam as arranged but on arrival there, found the Immigration Office closed.”
“They returned to Rose Hall and went to the cinema. After the cinema was over the applicant took her to Pandit Sharma and arranged for their marriage.” “They left their birth certificates with Pandit Sharma who told them to return in 14 days.”
“They did so on the 12th February, 1962, and were married by the Pandit according to Hindu religion in the presence of the Pandit’s wife and another woman.”
“A certified copy of the notification of marriage later sent by the Pandit to the Immigration Agent General for registration of the marriage of the parties bears the signatures of the parties and of two other persons as witnesses.”
“The Immigration Agent General entered the marriage in the Register of Marriages of Immigrants on the 23rd February, 1962.”
“The evidence supports the applicant’s story that they returned to the Pandit on the 25th January, 1962 where the notification was signed by the parties and I so find. In arriving at that conclusion I have been influenced by the conflicts in the testimony of the respondent and of the Pandit as to who was present at the time of the marriage and by the sorry figure cut by the Pandit when cross-examined as to his conversation with Pandit Tiwari at a Shraad held after 12th February. I have formed the view that the evidence of Pandit Sharma cannot be relied on in any matter which conflicts with that of the applicant.”
“I think that what he said were lies he had told to Pandit Tiwari was in fact the truth and that it was a true confession that he had not performed a ceremony of marriage between the parties.”
“From Pandit Ramsaywack Sharma’s own evidence it is apparent what little regard he has for the solemnity of the occasion of a marriage ceremony. The manner in which he said he performed the ceremony seems more in the nature of a purveyor of goods than of a priest carrying out a solemn duty.”
“His evidence from the witness box shows what little regard he has for the sanctity of an oath.”
“One cannot but wonder whether he is fit for priestly duties.” “The respondent is entitled to much sympathy but in fact she was never lawfully married to the applicant.”
“In the result the applicant is entitled to have an order for the cancellation of the registration of the marriage with a direction to the Immigration Agent General to cancel the said registration.” “In the circumstances of the case each party will bear his/her own costs of these proceedings.”
(By George Barclay)