Monday, June 05, 2017

RTI unearths a hidden wedding

The Hindu: Chennai: Monday, June 05, 2017.
In an unusual use of the Right to Information Act, a man in Tamil Nadu sought documents to prove that his wife had suppressed the fact that she had married someone else earlier.
The husband’s petition seeking information on her first marriage was rejected on the grounds that it related to a “third party.” The petitioner then moved the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission, which ruled in his favour. The Commission held that though the privacy and dignity of the woman had to be protected, the petitioner’s plea could not be rejected, as he had accused his wife of concealing her earlier marriage.
The man first petitioned the Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai, claiming that he had information about his wife’s earlier marriage at the temple on May 29, 2013, and sought a copy of the marriage certificate. The authorities, however, refused since it was “third party information”. The Public Information Officer said the marriage certificate would be issued only if the man or woman or both (who married there) signed the application.
The aggrieved petitioner moved the Commission, which called for details. The PIO said a request for a marriage certificate was entertained only when the husband or wife or both applied.
Marriage confirmed
When the Commission insisted, the temple authorities confirmed that the woman had got married to another man on May 29, 2013, and the couple even sought a marriage certificate to get a ration card.
Chief Information Commissioner K. Ramanujam took note of the petitioner’s marriage to the woman at Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathy Temple in Madurai and directed him to apply to the Meenakshi temple authorities along with a copy of his own marriage photograph.
If the woman in the photo matched the one who got married on May 29, 2013, the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR &CE) department could issue a copy of the first marriage certificate. If the petitioner was unable to produce a photo, the temple could still verify the woman’s identity, since Sri Prasanna Venkatachapalathy Temple was also under the HR & CE, he said.