Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Supreme Court of India Rules in Favor of Goolrukh Gupta in Landmark Judgement

Parsi Times and Parsiana both report on their social media streams that the Supreme Court of India has ruled in favor of Goolrukh Gupta overturning the previous judgement of the Gujarat High Court.

Goolrukh Gupta. Photo credit Parsiana

From Parsi Times

BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court Allows Inter-Married Parsi Women To Enter Fire Temple

In major ruling today, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that a Parsi woman, who marries outside her community, must be allowed to enter fire temples and participate in other religious rituals. The Supreme Court has hereby granted Goolrukh Gupta, who was excommunicated from Parsi religious activities and rights after she married outside the religion, the right to enter the fire temple in Valsad, Gujarat.

Goolrukh Gupta had married a non-Parsi, under the Special Marriage Act, in 1991, and under the Parsi customary law, also lost the right to visit the ‘Tower of Silence’ in the event of her father’s death to perform the last rites. She had approached the courts seeking a declaration that she should not be barred from attending the funeral of her father merely because she has married outside the religion. However, in 2010, the Gujarat High Court upheld the customary law, which Gupta went on to challenge in the Supreme Court.

Today’s major ruling by the SC could very well affect changes in laws governing the personal lives of Parsis in India. A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today quashed the Gujarat High Court order, ruling that Gupta does not lose the right to enter Parsi temples or participate in other religious rituals because she married outside her community.

The Supreme Court’s decision came as no surprise as the five-judge Constitution bench had indicated last week how its decision may turn out, asking the Parsi Anjuman in Valsad to reconsider Gupta’s plea and allow her to attend the funeral of her father, when he passes away, observing she hasn’t “surrendered her affection to father” and that “DNA does not evaporate” after marrying outside the religion, as “marrying under the Special Marriage Act is only for the retention of original identity”.

From Parsiana

Goolrookh Gupta and her sister Shiraz Patodia will be permitted to attend funerary ceremonies at the Valsad Doongerwadi after the south Gujarat Parsi anjuman relented under the urging of the Supreme Court of India. The sisters’ elderly parents Adi and Dina Contractor reside in Valsad whose anjuman passed a resolution over 10 years ago barring entry to the local fire temple and Towers of Silence to Parsi women married to non-Parsis. The lawyer for the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Gopal Subramanium said today the high priests of the Parsi community were consulted, after which the decision was taken. The Court commended the humanitarian stand taken by the Anjuman.

All issues of law including entry to the local fire temple, the fundamental rights of women to retain their religions while marrying under the Special Marriage Act will be heard on January 18, 2018, Patodia informed Parsiana.