This article is written by Pooja Lakshmi, studying BBA-LLB at Bennett University, Greater Noida. A country like India which promotes every religion and where people have the right to live with his or her religion must also accommodate a typical marriage of two Indians where there is no denial when both the parties are from different religions. The special marriage act was introduced in 1954 to accommodate such marriages where they get authenticity to such relational unions. This article involves procedures and benefits though THE SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT 1954 and provides a clear-cut idea of the ritual followed.
It applies to Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhist marriages, and every Indian state except Jammu and Kashmir. It applies not only to Indian citizens who belong to different caste and religion but also to Indian nationals who live abroad. According to this law, the fundamental requirement for marriage is the consent of both the parties and if both the parties are willing to marry each other, then caste, religion, race, etc. cannot act as a barrier to their union. One has to file a notice to the district marriage registrar stating their intention to marry each other, in which, at least one of the parties to the marriage has left for at least 30 days prior to the date on which such notice is filed. After expiry of 30 days from the date, such notice gets published, the marriage has to be solemnized. The essential requirement for marriage is that the parties must give consent, and there must be at least three witnesses.
Condition to Marriage
- At the time of marriage, the bride must be at least 18 years of age and groom must be 21 years of age as per the minimum age limit condition for a girl and boy to marry.
- Both the parties must be monogram and should not have any living spouse at the time of marriage.
- The parties must be mentally fit and sane at the time of marriage and should be able to decide for themselves.
- They should not be subjected to a prohibited relationship because if it is found to be a prohibited relationship, it might act as a ground for dissolving the marriage in the future.
- One should write the application as per the format set out in the second schedule.
- After filing the application, a public notice should be issued signed by parties to raise objections if any, against the intended marriage.
- Documents such as proof of age, address, an affidavit concerning the marital status, the known relationship between the parties within the degree of probation, passport size photos, etc. are required at the time of marriage.
- A copy of the notice must be attached to a marriage notice book that can be inspected by anyone.
Objection to Marriage
Any object can be made regarding consent, capacity, incest, age, etc. Further, it must be communicated to the marriage officer within 30 days of the notice being published. The object requirement was inserted in the SMA to provide an opportunity for the families of the bride or groom to know more about the impending wedding, letting them make items to dissuade the couple. Many inter-faith marriages take place where the life of the couples is at risk, which makes this procedural step dangerous, defeating the entire point of having legislation like SMA. It also specifies that the bride and groom could not stay at the same place at the time of applying, which is not a pre-condition in the assembly, or in any religious marriage law.
If the marriage officer believes that the objection she has received is not reasonable, or is not made with a bona fide intention, then the person making the objection may on the receiving end of objection costs up to thousands of rupees and the person under obligation be awarded in the case.
Succession to Property
The succession to the property of individuals married under the Special Marriage Act, including their children, will be governed by the Indian Succession Act. If a party belongs to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or Jain, then the Hindu Succession Act will govern the succession of the property. The Hindu Marriage Act is binding for all the Hindus whereas; the Special Marriage Act is suitable for all the Indians, and it is binding, regardless of their religion having applicability in courts as well.
Divorce can be an option if any of the parties is a victim of adultery/ case of desertion, for more than two years after the petition has got filed for the charges of false imprisonment, cruelty, rape, sodomy, or bestiality. If any of the party has a sexually transmitted disease in a communicable form, or leprosy, or is of unsound mind; the party can ask for a divorce.
About alimony, the income of the wife is taken into consideration while null is in a maintenance amount.
It prevents style marriage because of the age restrictions imposed and prevents polygamy. The woman can claim shelter and maintenance too. This act promotes interfaith marriages.
Both the parties are subject to the penalties provided in S. 494 and 495 of the IPC for the offence of remarriage during their lifetime. The marriage so contracted will be void under the law.
A man may live together with his consort stably if he has gone or is on the go to see, or on small business for the reason that it does not shape the marital bond in any form between them. They may not be living under the same roof yet are not separated. A Husband cannot be considered to leave his wife without reasonable cause, as he is forced to leave a will for her legally.
Restriction on Divorce during the First Year of Marriage
Parties married under the special marriage act cannot file a petition for divorce in the district courts unless and until one year has passed from the date of marriage as registered in the marriage books. As per S. 29 of the special marriage act, in a case where the court is of an opinion that the respondent has shown exceptional depravity on their part, or the petitioner has suffered exceptional hardship; a petition for divorce can be filed, but if any misrepresentation is found on the part of the petitioner while applying for divorce petition before the expiry, then the court may, if any order has been passed, state the order to take effect only after the expiry of 1 year.
Since Indians believe in marriages with proper rituals, customs, and ceremonies that include pomp and show, and extravagant celebrations, none of that is required under the Special Marriage Act. The fundamental requirement under this Act for a valid marriage is the consent of both parties to the marriage. If both the parties to the marriage are willing to marry each other, that is enough to for a lawful marriage irrespective of the caste, religion, race, etc. of the parties. For marriage under this Act, the parties must file with the district’s Marriage Registrar, a notice stating their intention to marry each other in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has lived for at least 30 days prior to the date on which such notice is filed. After the expiry of 30 days from the date that such notice was published, the marriage is then said to be solemnized. For a valid marriage, the parties must also give their consent to the marriage before the marriage officer and three witnesses.
- Special Marriage Act ,1954
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act in India
- The Hindu Marriage Act 1955
- Kay v. Kay, (1904)
- All You Need to Know About the Special Marriage Act, 1954, That Facilitates Inter-Faith Marriages, Benefits of the Act, WOMENSWEB
- Punishment of bigamy,10 THINGS EVERY INDIAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT, 1954, MYADALAT
- Diva Rai, Sonali Chauhan, Unreasonable Objections, A Brief Guide to Special Marriage Act, IPLEADERS
- vakasha sachdev, Confused About Special Marriage Act? Inter-faith Couples Take Heed, THE QUINT
- Tushar Krishnani, Constitutional Validity of Section 21 of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, youthforum,
- K. SURESH, A STUDY ON SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT,1954
- The schedule and forms of special marriage act, Kerala registration
 Diva Rai, Sonali Chauhan, A Brief Guide to Special Marriage Act, IPLEADERS, <https://blog.ipleaders.in/special-marriage-act/#:~:text=In%20India%2C%20all%20marriages%20can,unite%20in%20the%20marriage%20bond >
 Vakasha Sachdev, Inter-faith Couples Take Heed, THE QUINT <https://www.thequint.com/explainers/special-marriage-act-specifications>
 Diva Rai, Sonali Chauhan, Unreasonable Objections, A Brief Guide to Special Marriage Act, IPLEADERS, <https://blog.ipleaders.in/special-marriage-act/#:~:text=In%20India%2C%20all%20marriages%20can,unite%20in%20the%20marriage%20bond>
 Tushar Krishnani, Constitutional Validity of S. 21 of Hindu Succession Act 1956, YOUTHFORUM, <http://youthforum.co.in/constitutional-validity-of-section-21-of-hindu-succession-act-1956/#_edn1 >
 All You Need to Know About the Special Marriage Act 1954, WOMENSWEB
 Punishment of Bigamy, MYADALAT, <https://demo.myadalat.com/blog/marriage/10-things-every-indian-should-know-about-the-special-marriage-act-1954/>
 Kay v. Kay, (1904)
 < https://acadpubl.eu/hub/2018-120-5/3/247.pdf >
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