Christian Marriage and Registration Procedure in India

This article discusses the essentials of a Christian Marriage and its registration procedure in India. Such marriages are governed by the Christian Marriage Act, 1872. The article discusses various essentials relating to such a marriage and relevant parties and their obligations to a valid marriage under the Act.

Tue Jun 11 2024 | Family Law

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.

1.Essential Requirements

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:-

  1. The bridegroom must not be under twenty-one years and the  bride must not be under eighteen years of age respectively;
  2. Consent must be free and voluntary and not obtained by misrepresentation of facts, compulsion or undue influence;
  3. Neither party should have a spouse living at the time of marriage;
  4. Marriage must be performed in the presence of at least two reliable witnesses, by a person licensed to grant a certificate to the marriage.

2.Conditions for Performance of a Marriage by a Marriage Registrar

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:

  • there is no obstacle ,natural inclination or other legitimate impediment to the Marriage;
  • the place of residence is within the locale of the marriage registrar;
  • where one of the parties is a minor, the  consent of one of the persons mentioned below  is of paramount importance in order to perform the marriage :
    • Father of the minor, if alive and not deceased, then,
    • The Guardian of the minor or if no guardian, then,
    • Consent of the mother is required unless, no person authorized to give such consent resides in India.
  • Issuance of the Certificate of Notice after the Pledge has been taken: Once the pledge has been taken before the registrar by either one of the parties to the marriage and a time limit of four days have lapsed after the notice of intended marriage has been received, the Registrar has the power to issue the Certificate of Notice. The information contained in the Certificate of Notice pertains to the location of the Church or Chapel, where the marriage rituals are expected to be performed. The certificate will not  be issued if it is stopped by anyone demonstrating grounds why the testament ought not to be issued. The certificate issued makes it mandatory to perform the marriage within two months from the date of issuance of it failing which, the certificate becomes redundant and a fresh certificate would have to be issued.

3.Persons authorized to perform the marriage under the act

Under Section 5 of the Act, the following persons are competent to perform the marriage:

  • persons appointed by the Episcopal,  provided that such marriages are performed as per the customs and rituals, regulations governed by the Church of which he is a Minister;
  • by any Clergyman of the Church of Scotland, provided that such  marriages are performed according to the customs, rules and regulations governed by the Church of Scotland;
  • by any Minister of Religion licensed under this Act to solemnize marriages;
  • By any person who is appointed by or in the presence of the Marriage registrar under the Act;
  • any person licensed under this Act to grant certificates of marriage between  Indian Christians

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.

4.Performance of the Marriage under the Act.

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.

5.Time and Place for the Performance of 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.

6.Registration of 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.

7.Documents Required for Registration of Marriage under the Act:

  • Complete application form;
  • Passport Size photographs,
  • The Marriage Certificate issued by the Minister or the Priest who performed the wedding,
  • Two photographs of the wedding rituals along with the wedding invite;
  • Residence and age proof of either party to the marriage;
  • An affidavit certifying the mental and marital status of both parties.
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