Special Marriage Act is a secular law of marriage where people of different religions can solemnize their marriage without conversion or following any rituals/religious ceremonies. The parties who wish to get married under the said law, must send a notice to the Registrar of Marriage for a period not less than 30 days.
Our country is a pool of diverse religions and customs,where citizens are free to practice any religion of their choice due to the State’s secular nature. The Special Marriage Act is one such central legislation made to preserve such secular nature of the State and to authenticate and register such inter-religious/interfaith marriages in India.
The Special Marriage Act is a secular law of marriage that allows two individuals to solemnize and register their marriage through a civil contract. No performance of any rites and ceremonies is required to be carried out under the said Act. In such an inter-religious marriage, both the parties adhere to their own religion and require no conversion for a valid marriage. Whichever religion is being professed by either spouse, they are allowed to solemnize the marriage under the provisions of the said Act, provided that the intended marriage is in accordance with the conditions laid down in the said Act.
The parties intending to get married must send a notice in the specified form to the Registrar of Marriage of the city/district in which at least one of the parties has been residing for a period not less than thirty (30) days. The said notice will then be published/affixed in the office of the Marriage Officer for receiving any objections on the solemnization of the said marriage. If any person has an objection to the marriage, he/she is allowed to raise the objection within 30 days from the date of publication of notice by the marriage registrar. A declaration form is to be signed by the parties along with three witnesses declaring that the marriage is being solemnized with the free consent of the parties and without any coercion or undue influence. The said declaration has to be countersigned by the Marriage Officer. 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, which shall be conclusive evidence of the marriage. Both parties are required to be present at the time of filing of the initial notice as well as 30 days after the solemnization and registration of marriage.
Documentary requirements for solemnization of the marriage under the said Act-
Solemnization of marriage under the said act is a lengthy process and hence the timelines involved are important to consider.
It is pertinent to note that one of the parties intending to get married must have resided in the district for a period of not less than 30 days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given to the Marriage Office of the district.
After submitting the application to the Marriage Officer, the parties have to wait again for at least for 30 days from the date of initial application to solemnize the marriage while they wait for the Marriage Officer to receive any objections to the said marriage.