How to do Court Marriage in India
A court marriage is not like an ordinary marriage. A court marriage is solemnized following the provisions stated in the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The procedure, conditions, documents required etc for court marriage is the same across all the states in India. Court marriages are often resorted to when the marriage by the couples are not approved by the parents and relatives, when the man and the woman belong to two different religions, when the family cannot afford the expenses incurred during big weddings or merely because they want a hassle free wedding. The marriage takes place and is solemnized in the court in front of a marriage officer and in the presence of three witnesses. These marriages do not necessarily have to follow the customary practices of religion. Getting married in front of the marriage officer is the only act required to make the marriage valid. The question that is often asked regarding court marriage is, who is eligible for court marriage. Any two individuals of different genders belonging to either same religion or different religions can get married through court marriage. Although the Special Marriages Act, 1954 gives the freedom to any two individuals to get married, the provisions of this act are subject to certain conditions and limitations. Section 4 of chapter II of the special marriages act, 1954 deals with the conditions that have to be met before getting married.
- No pre-existing marriage – The parties must not have a pre existing marriage or spouses living from the previous marriage.
- Valid Consent – The parties must be capable of giving a valid consent and they should not be of unsound mind when they give consent.
- Age-The male must have completed 21 years of age and the female should be of 18 years of age at least.
- Prohibited relationships – The parties should not be within the limits of prohibited relationships. But if there is a custom of either of the parties which allows such a relationship then the marriage can be solemnized even if it is technically prohibited.
Part I and II of the first schedule deal with the provisions regarding prohibited relationships.
The procedure for a court marriage is covered under Chapter II which is titled “solemnization of special marriages. The procedure can be divided into 6 broad steps. Under section 5 of the special marriages act, a notice has to be given to the court officer prior to the marriage. It is mandatory that the parties to the marriage should give the notice in writing and also in the form and manner as prescribed according to the second schedule of the act. The marriage officer solemnizing the marriage should be having jurisdiction in the area where at least one of the parties have resided for a minimum of 30 days prior to giving the notice. Along with this certain documents also have to be submitted in the prescribed form. The application form which is in the specified format should be properly filled and signed by both the bride and the groom. The receipt fee of the application form with respect to the district court should also be paid. Documentary evidence proving the date of birth of both the parties should be submitted. This can be matriculation certificate, passport, or a birth certificate. Documentary evidence relating to the stay in the place where they are intending to get married should be provided. For this purpose they can submit a ration card or a report from the corresponding station house officer showing proof that the person stayed there for more than 30 days. Both the bride and the groom have to submit separate affidavits. The separate affidavits must contain date of birth, present marital status that is if either of the person is unmarried, widower or a divorcee. The affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the degree of prohibited relationship as defined under the special marriage act has to be provided. Passport size photos including two pictures have to be provided. This also has to be attested by a Gazetted officer. A copy of divorce or death certificate has to be provided if the person is a divorcee or a widower. The marriage officer will then publish the notice after receiving all the important documents. The true copies of the relevant documents will be kept in the marriage notice book. In cases where the parties are not permant residents of the area which comes within the jurisdiction of the marriage officer then the officer will send a copy of the notice to the marriage officer of the place where the parties are permanently residing. This copy will then be affixed in his office. Section 7 entitles any person to raise objection against the marriage on the reasons that the marriage would violate the conditions stated in section 4 of the act. The objection has to be raised within not more than 30 days of the publication of notice by the officer. The objection and the nature of the objection has to be recorded by the marriage officer in his important marriage book.
After receiving the objection the officer will enquire into it with the right conferred to him under section 8 within 30 days and solemnize the marriage if the objection doesn’t challenge the solemnization of the marriage. If it’s a valid objection the marriage cannot be conducted. The parties have the right to take this to the district court for appeal. Before the marriage is solemnized the parties to the marriage and three witnesses should sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule, in the presence of the Marriage Officer and which has to be countersigned by the Marriage Officer. The court marriage can be solemnized at the office of the Marriage Officer or at another place within a reasonable distance. The cost of court marriage varies in different states and the fee has to be looked into respectively. The entire process from giving notice can take a maximum of 60 days only if there is no objection within the stipulated time.