Excommunication of Parsi Women: A Legal Analysis
Recently, the Supreme Court of India issued a notice on a plea that challenged the practice of ostracizing Parsi women who chose to marry persons outside the Parsi community. The High Court of Gujarat in the case of Goolrokh Gupta v. Burjor Pardiwala, infamously held that when a Parsi woman marries a non-Parsi person under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, she ceases to be a Parsi unless she obtains declaration from a competent court stating that she has continued to practice her religion even after marriage. Upon the challenge of this judgment by the petitioner, the Supreme Court tagged this case to the Sabarimala review petitions citing the similarity of issues, which then drew attention to the Zoroastrian practice of prohibiting the entry of women who chose to marry persons from other religious faiths into sacred institutions of the Parsi community. This blog post seeks to discuss the test of “essential religious practices” and is a critique of the judgment of the High Court of Gujarat.