Under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, Christian marriages in India are performed by a Minister or Priest in a church. After the marriage is performed, the minister or priest enlists the marriage and issues a marriage certificate, thereby endorsing the marriage. A marriage, performed earlier by a Priest or Minister of the Church, can likewise be enrolled, in the register by the registrar of marriages. In order to get a marriage registered, it is incumbent on each party to the marriage to make an application to the concerned authority located within its place of residence.
In order to constitute a valid marriage under the act, it is a requirement that either one or both parties are Christians; unless one of the parties to the marriage is governed by its own personal law which forbids such a marriage on the grounds of prohibited degrees of relationship, thereby rendering the marriage as void and redundant under the act. To constitute a legitimate marriage under the act the following factors have to be complied with:-
The following conditions have to be complied with for the performance of the marriage by the Marriage Registrar appointed under the Act. They are as follows:
(a) Notice of Intended Marriage: A written application or notice is made by either party to the marriage r to the Marriage Registrar residing in the same area to notify the concerned authority of their intention to get married. Incase both the parties reside in different areas, each party would have to make a separate notice in writing to the Marriage Registrar located within their areas of residence. The written application or notice is recorded in the ‘marriage notebook’ and is pasted in a clear noticeable area in the office.
(b) A Pledge Before Registrar: Before the certificate of notice has been issued, either one party to the marriage should make a personal appearance before the Marriage Registrar, pledging that:
Under Section 5 of the Act, the following persons are competent to perform the marriage:
If a marriage is performed by a person who is not authorized under the act to perform it, such a marriage would be termed void.
A Christian Marriage is performed between the parties to the marriage according to the rituals considered essential and proper as per the Minister or Priest performing the marriage. The marriage rituals require the mandatory presence of two witnesses apart from the minister or the priest performing the marriage. If a marriage has not been performed within two months after the issuance of the certificate of notice, such a marriage cannot be performed after the lapse of the two month period, and a fresh certificate of notice would have to be applied in order to solemnize the marriage.
The Act clearly stipulates the ‘time’ and the ‘place for the performance of marriage’. Time for performing of marriage rituals has been fixed to six in the morning and seven in the evening and the place where the marriage is to be performed is the Church. The Clergy of the Church is given flexibility for the time and place for performance of the marriage.
An application for registration of marriage is made by the parties to the concerned authority in whose Jurisdiction either party has been residing. Marriage is registered in the Marriage Register, by the Registrar who was present and performed the marriage of the couple. The acknowledgement slip of the registration is signed by both the parties to the marriage along with their witnesses and is attached to the register as proof. These acknowledgement slips are sent out at the end of the month to the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Indian Christian marriages can also be endorsed under a special provision without a prior notice.
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