Monday, 17 August 2009

Special Marriage Act, 1954

Special Marriage Act allows any two individuals to marry (including intercaste marriages), irrespective of their religion, caste and nationality. It even applies to people living abroad, with Indian nationality. Therefore, any marriage under the Special Marriage Act is a Civil Marriage by registration. However, there are some conditions to be fulfilled under this act.

Neither party should have a living husband or wife.
Neither party should be a lunatic or insane.
The bridegroom should not be less than 21 years of age whereas the bride must be 18 years old.
The parties should not be involved in any prohibited relationship.
Both parties should be the citizens of and domiciled within the territories mentioned in the Act.

Marriage Ceremony

Notice must be given by the bride and bridegroom to the Marriage Officer of the district, with one of them residing immediately previous to the notice for atleast 30 days.
Marriage Officer records the notice and sends a copy to the Marriage Officer of the District.
30 days time is given for any person to raise any objections to the intended marriage.
From the date of receipt of any objections, the Marriage Officer should enquire into the same, within 30 days.
If the objections are found valid, either party to the intended marriage may appeal to the District Court, whose decision shall be binding.
In case there is no objection or the objection is rejected, the parties with 3 witnesses sign in presence of the Marriage Officer, declaring they are unmarried and are not related within prohibited degrees.
The marriage is then solemnized in any form which parties choose to adopt. The form must have the following declaration by each party to the effect; "I take thee to be my lawful wife (or husband)." The parties and 3 witnesses then sign the certificate of solemnization. This certificate is conclusive certificate of solemnization.
The solemnization should be completed within 3 months from the date of notice, failing which the notice lapses and a new notice needs to be issued.


Protect such couples against harassment, violence: Bench

• Court issues directive to administration, police throughout country

• Caste system is a curse on the nation; the sooner it is destroyed, the better

• Disapproving parents can at best snap social relations with their children

• Feudal-minded people deserve harsh punishment

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over the growing opposition to, intimidation of, and violence against inter-caste couples. A Bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhan and Markandey Katju directed the administration and the police throughout the country to extend protection to such couples against harassment and initiate action against those who resorted to or instigated violence.

DISTURBING NEWS : Writing the judgment, Justice Katju said: "The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed, the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest, as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news is coming from several parts that young men and women who unite in inter-caste marriages are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them."

WHOLLY ILLEGAL : Expressing anguish, the Bench said: "Such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished. This is a free and democratic country and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he or she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, the maximum they can do is to cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who opts for inter-caste or inter-religious marriage."

SHAMEFUL ACTS : Referring to instances of killings of such couples, the Bench said: "There is nothing honourable about such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons who deserve harsh punishment.

``Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism."

In the instant case, Lata Singh of Lucknow got married to Bramha Nand Gupta of Delhi, who belonged to a different community. At the instance of the girl's brother, the boy's sisters and their families were arrested and criminal proceedings initiated against them. Ms. Lata Singh moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash the proceedings.

NO BAR : Allowing her petition and quashing the proceedings, the Bench said: "This case reveals a shocking state of affairs. There is no dispute that the petitioner is a major and was at all relevant times a major.'' ``Hence she is free to marry anyone she likes or live with anyone she likes. There is no bar to an inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law. `` Hence, we cannot see what offence was committed by the petitioner, her husband or her husband's relatives."

Courtesy: The Hindu (July 8,2006)