In India, marriage can be registered under the personal law i.e. Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act or under the Special Marriage Act. Marriage- “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.” The Special Marriage Act is a special law laid down by the legislature to establish a unique form of marriage by registration wherein the parties to the marriage do not have to renounce their religion.
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir and also applies to citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act allows solemnizations as well as legal registration people from two different religious backgrounds to come together in the bond of marriage. However, even if both the intending parties belong to the same religion, even then they can choose to register their marriage under this Act.
Prerequisite for a Marriage Under Special Marriage Act, 1954
- That either of the party should not have a spouse living at the time of marriage.
- That either of the party should not be incapable of giving valid consent to the marriage due to the unsound status of the mind.
- That neither party should be suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage.
- That neither party has been subject to persistent attacks of epilepsy or insanity.
- That the bridegroom must have completed the age of 21 years and the bride the age of 18 years at the time of marriage.
- That the parties are not within the degrees of the prohibited relationship as defined by the law.
Step By Step Procedure For Solemnization of Marriage as Under Special Marriage Act, 1954
According to the scheme and structure of the Special Marriage Act parties intending to marry shall give notice in writing in the specified form and format to the Marriage Officer of the district within whose jurisdiction the parties intend to solemnize their marriage.
Notice of Intended Marriage
First and foremost step is to notify the public at large, regarding the intention of the parties to marry by way of issuance of notice in writing in the form and format, as prescribed in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the District in which at least one of the intending parties to the marriage has resided for a period not less than 30 days immediately preceding the date on which such notice of intention is being issued.
Public Notice and Objections
As per Section 6 of the Act, an application when received by the marriage officer as under Section 5 of the Act, duly signed by both parties, marriage officer shall enter a true copy of every such notice in a book prescribed for that purpose, to be called the Marriage Notice Book. And the book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without fee, by any person desirous of inspecting the same. Further, The Marriage Officer shall cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office which shall be visible to the public, as per the Section 7 of the Act, for inspection for a period of thirty days to raise objections to the intended marriage if any. While such objection to the marriage if any shall be on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in Sec.4.
If the objections so raised are valid and the same are decided against the marriage of the parties concerned, the bride or groom may, as under Section 8 of the Act, within thirty days of such refusal, appeal to the district court.
Solemnization of Marriage
Once the objections are dealt with, the marriage may be solemnized at the expiry of 30 days. The notice is valid for 3 months. Before the marriage is solemnized, as required under Section 11 of the Act, the parties along with three witnesses must make a Declaration to that effect, in the presence of the Marriage Officer in the form, as prescribed in the Third Schedule.
Once all the objections so raised are resolved and a declaration as required under Section 11 is made by the bride, groom, and any three witnesses, the marriage will be solemnized under Section 13 upon the cessation of the objection period in the absence of any objections. Marriage can be solemnized in whatever form the parties may choose to adopt. The marriages can be solemnized either within a reasonable distance from the office of the marriage officer or at such other place as the parties may wish.
According to the Section 13 of the Act, when the marriage has been solemnized the Marriage Officer shall enter a certificate thereof in the form specified in the Fourth Schedule in a book to be kept and maintained by him for that purpose and such book is called the Marriage Certificate Book and such certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and the three witnesses.
Therefore, once a certificate has been entered in the Marriage Certificate Book maintained by the Marriage Officer, then the issuance of the certificate shall be deemed to be conclusive evidence of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized and that all formalities have been well complied with.
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