Special Marriage Act, 1954
India is a country full of culture and tradition. It gave birth to many religions other than Hinduism, such as Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism etc. There are people from many religions residing in India like Muslims, Christians and Parsis. Moreover, casteism inside the religions is one of the major factor governing the policies of India.
Marriage is one of the most sacred institution around the globe. Earlier, the elders of the house used to select the partner for the Marriage. Generally, selection was based upon caste. moreover, it was against the society to marry inter-caste. Even today, marriage in other caste or religion is not fully acceptable. Even though, we have proper Legislation to regulate Inter caste and Inter religion marriage.
In 1872, HS Maine introduced Act III of 1872, which gave permission to dissenters to marry whoever the choose under new Civil Marriage Law. But it was inadequate. In 1954 Parliament enacted Special Marriage Act,1954 to provide for registration and validation of special form of marriage in India.
The new enactment has three major objective:
- To provide for special form of marriage in certain cases;
- To provide for registration of certain marriages; and
- To provide for Divorce.
Scope of Special Marriage Act:
Inter caste marriages are those marriage where bride and groom, both are from different caste and religion. Earlier in India, marrying in other caste considered as crime against the community. However, Inter caste marriages have gained acceptance due to improvement in the lifestyle and upbringing of people. Today’s generation is trying to break-free the ties of orthodoxy and prefer to choose their partner themselves irrespective of their caste. For the acceptance of such marriage, our parliament enacted a proper legislation i.e Special Marriage Act. It gave condition and requirement for the special mariage. Also in case of mishappening, it gave power to courts to interfere.
Application of the Act:
Chapter 1 of The Special Marriage Act deals with applicability of the act.
- This acts covers all the religions namely,Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Buddhists.
- It also applies not only to the people living in India but also the Indian national living abroad.
- It applies to all the states of India except Jammu and kashmir. Article 370 of The Indian Constitution gave the autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Requirement for the Marriage:
In India, generally marriages require to be done by the priests with proper rituals and countless ceremonies taking upto a week full of rituals. Unlike a normal Hindu Marriage, Inter Caste Marriages do not require such rituals and ceremonies to be followed.
- Consent of the Parties: The Consent of both the parties to the marriage is first and most important requirement. because, marriage is a social contract and Without consent, no contract can be binding.
- Notice of Registration: Parties require to file a written notice in prescribed form before the District Marriage Officer.
- Place and time of Registration: Notice should be filed in the District where one of the two parties have been residing for more than 30 days immediately preceding to the issue of notice. [section – 5]
Chapter 2: Solemnization of Marriage’ has laid down certain conditions to be fulfilled strictly. If not followed, marriage will be considered as Void Ab Initio.
- Age of the Parties: The prescribed age for Bride and Groom is 18 and 21 years respectively.
- No Living Spouse: None of the party has any living spouse at the time of marriage i.e both the party should not have any other husband wife whatsoever at any other place or in any other religion.
- Soundness of Mind: Competent to make contract of marriage i.e both party must be of sane mind at the time of giving the consent. Any mental disorder while while giving the consent makes the marriage voidable..
- Free Consent: the consent of the parties must be free i.e without any undue influence.
- Prohibited Degree of Relationship: And the parties must not be related to each other by blood i.e neither half blood nor full blood and they must not come under prohibited relationships stipulated by the legislation.
Provision for Divorce :
Special Marriage Act prohibits filing of divorce petition within one year of marriage. Moreover, in case court has reason to believe that the petitioner had to experience hardships or the respondent has failed to provide the basics. In that case court can entertain the petition. And if court find some misrepresentation on the part of petitioner, court can deny to maintain the petition and will entertain the same after expiration of one year.
Casteism has always been a problem in India. people from higher caste has always looked down on people of lower caste. Special marriage helps the people of one caste to understand other castes . Such marriages has been found very useful in unification of the families, hence unification of nation. Moreover, it helped to eliminate inequalities based upon caste and religion. The acts provided for agreement for both the parties in individual capacities. And removing the barriers of casteism .