How To Solemnize an Interfaith/Inter-Religious Marriage in India

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.

Thu Feb 03 2022 | HLL Knowledge Series | Comments (0)

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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 mandatory conditions to solemnize a marriage under  the Special Marriage Act are as follows:-  

  1. Neither  party should have a spouse living.
  2. The  man and the woman must have completed the age of 21 and 18 years of age,  respectively.
  3. The  parties should not be within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless  their custom permits a marriage between the two.
  4. Neither  party should be incapable of giving a valid consent to the marriage due to  unsoundness of mind or subject to recurrent attacks of epilepsy or insanity.

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.

General Requirements

Documentary requirements for solemnization of the marriage under  the said Act- 

  1. Duly  filled and signed application form in the prescribed format
  2. AADHAAR /Voter  ID/ Driving license/ Passport
  3. Proof  of Local Address
  4. Documentary  evidence of date of birth of the parties e.g. - High School Certificate or Birth  Certificate
  5. Divorce  decree, if either or both the parties have been divorced previously.
  6. Passport  Size Photos etc.

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.

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