The Special Marriage Act was enacted to provide a special form of marriage for any person in India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party to the marriage. The parties may observe any ceremonies for the solemnization of their marriage but certain formalities are prescribed before the marriage officer can register the marriage. For the good of the Indian citizens abroad, the act provides for the appointment of diplomatic and consular officers as marriage officers for solemnizing and registering marriages between citizens of India in a foreign country. The Act is applicable throughout the country except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Conditions for the Special Marriage Act are as follows :
The Act states that a marriage between two persons can be legalized, if the following conditions are satisfied at the time of marriage:
Prohibited Relationship includes:
- Neither of the two parties has a spouse living at the time of marriage.
- Neither of the two is incapable of giving a valid consent to the marriage due to unsoundness of mind.
- Neither of the party has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriages and the procreation of children.
- Neither party has been subject to recurrent attacks of epilepsy or insanity.
- At the time of marriage the groom should be of 21 years of age and the bride should be of 18 years of age.
- Both the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship; provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them, such marriage may be solemnized, notwithstanding that they are within the degrees of prohibited relationship, and
- Where the marriage is solemnized in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, both parties are citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends.
- Relationship by half or uterine blood as well as by full blood;
- Illegitimate blood relationship as well as legitimate;
- Relationship by adoption as well as by blood;
and all terms of relationship in this Act shell be construed accordingly.
Notice of Intended Marriage
When a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties to the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the form specified in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least on of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than 30 days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.
Marriage Notice Book and Publication
Declaration by Parties and Witnesses
- The marriage Officer shall keep all notices given under Section 5 with the records of his office and shall also forthwith enter a true copy of every such notice in a book prescribed for that purpose, to be called the Marriage Notice Book, and such book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without fee, by any person desirous of inspecting the same.
- The Marriage Officer shall cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office and before the expiration of 30 days from the date on which the notice was published any person can object to the marriage that it would contravene any of the conditions necessary for the marriage.
- Where either of the parties to an intended marriage is not permanently residing within the local limits of the district of the Marriage Officer to whom the notice has been given under section 5, transmitted to the Marriage Officer of the district within whose limits such party is permanently residing, and that Marriage Officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.
Before the marriage is solemnized the parties and three witnesses shall, in the presence of the Marriage Officer, sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule to this Act, and the declaration shall be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.
Place and Form of Solemnization
The marriage maybe solemnized at the office of the Marriage Officer, or at such place within reasonable distance, as the parties may desire, upon payment of such additional fees as may be prescribed.
The marriage may be solemnized in a form, which the parties may choose to adopt. However, No marriage is complete and binding unless each party says to the other in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses in any language understood by the parties, I_______take thee________to be my lawful wife (or husband).
Certificate of Marriage
After the marriage has been solemnized the Marriage Officer shall enter a certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book and this shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and the three witnesses and this shall be conclusive evidence of the marriage.