Unlike shown in Bollywood movies, court marriages in India take more than just two consenting adults. Court marriages are solemnized as per the ‘Special Marriage Act, 1954’ and the procedure is common across the nation.
Court marriage can be solemnized between two parties (belonging to the same or different nations) irrespective of their caste, religion, or race. The interested parties can directly apply to the Marriage Registrar in order to get a marriage certificate.
Special Marriage Act, 1954
As stated above the Hindu Marriage Act is applicable to all Hindus and few other religions in the country whereas the special marriage Act 1954 is applicable to any citizen in India irrespective of religion. To register marriage in this act the applicants need to give a notice in writing in the concerned marriage registrar’s office.
Under the special marriage act 1954, inter-religion or inter-caste marriages are legal. When two parties apply for the marriage certificate under this act then the marriage registrar’s office affixes a notice on the notice board of its office. A copy of the notice is sent to both parties’ residences. If no objection is received within a month then the marriage may be solemnized. If any objection is raised, then an inquiry is conducted, and based on this the marriage is solemnized.
To get the marriage certificate by registering the marriage under this act both parties will have to solemnize the marriage in the presence of three witnesses. The witnesses will have to show their identification proofs such as Aadhar cards and others. Both the parties will have to show the affidavit to prove their marital status, fit mental condition, and non-relationship between the parties within the degree of prohibition, passport size photographs, and others.
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We know that Court Marriage Procedures may sound like a long process but it’s really not. We’ve listed all the court marriage rules you need to keep in mind before you tie the knot.
1) Meet the Eligibility Criteria
Individuals of any caste and country can enter a court marriage procedures according to the Indian law unless it’s same-sex marriage. The condition is they should fulfill these eligibility criteria:
- No Valid Previous Marriage: Make sure that neither party has a previous marriage that is still valid. I.e. a living legal husband or wife
- Valid Consent: Both the parties should be entering the marriage with full consent. The parties have to be of a stable mind and enter the marriage with their own will.
- Court Marriage Age: The legal court marriage age for a male is 21 years and female is 18 years of age.
- Fit for Procreation: Both parties should be fit for the procreation of children.
- Prohibited Relationship: According to court marriage rules, Parties should not be within degrees of the prohibited relationship as provided in Schedule I; however, if the customs and traditions of the religion of any one of the parties permit so, then it shall be valid.
2) Arrange the Required Documents
The marriage may be solemnized at the specified Marriage Office. Both parties along with three witnesses are required to be present on the date of registration/Solemnization.
Documents for the Bride and Groom
- Age Proof of both parties (Leaving Certificate / Passport / Birth Certificate / Domicile Certificate / SSC Board Certificate)
- Residential Proof of both parties (Ration Card / Passport / Election Card / Light Bill and Telephone Bill of Own Name)
- Photograph of both parties
- All Above Document Along with Original +1 Attested Xerox Copy
- Also, keep scanned copies for the online procedure
- In Case of Divorcees: Divorce Decree Certificate Must Be Produced
- In Case of Widow and Widower: Municipal Death Certificate of Concerned Person Must Be Produced
- Receipt of payment of the fee.
Documents for the Three (3) Witnesses
Court marriage rules require Three witnesses to complete the procedures of the court marriage. These witnesses will need to carry the following original documents with a Notary Attested.
- Ration Card
- Election Card
- Driving Licence
- Identity Card
3) Fill the Court Marriage Application Form
All the Brides and Grooms need to fill the online form and submit a printed copy of the same to the marriage registrar with all the above documents. The first step is to fill out data of where you come from and which marriage registration office you will have to go to. This page also provides a password so that you can edit the information on your application to court marriage. Continue to fill all the columns and provide details of the groom and bride. Then you will also have to fill the details of the witness. Then, you can submit your online application. Take note of your Date Entry Number, this with the password you created at the beginning, will help you edit the information before submitting it to the marriage registrar.
4) Submit the Notice for Court Marriage
First, for court marriage, you need to inform the district marriage officer about your intentions. The said notice has to be in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act. You have to send a written notice mandatorily to the marriage registrar showing the intention of the parties to marry each other. One needs to send the notice to the office of the marriage registrar, in whose district either of the party resides for a minimum of 30 days before sending the notice.
The notice is then published/put-up by the Registrar of Marriage inviting objections if any. After 30 days, in absence of any objections, the signing process ensues.
5) Signing the Declaration by Parties and Witnesses
The Bride, Groom, and Three Witnesses have to sign on the Marriage Declaration in the presence of the Marriage Officer. The officer countersigns the document to legalize the marriage. It is not necessary to sign the declaration in the marriage officer’s office. If the parties wish, with the consent of their marriage officer, the court marriage process can be healed at any other location which is at a reasonable distance.
The couple may choose their manner of solemnizing the court marriage, but the marriage procedures will not be complete unless both the parties say this sentence in any language of their choice.
“I ___, take ___, to be my lawful Wife / Husband.”
The marriage officer enters a court marriage certificate in the marriage certificate book. If signed by both parties and three witnesses, the marriage certificate is conclusive evidence of the court marriage.
6) Court Marriage of an Indian and Foreign National
A marriage between an Indian and a foreign national is legal under the Special Marriage Act, in India before a Marriage Registrar in India or a Marriage Officer in a foreign country. The procedure remains the same. However, it is crucial that the laws of the two nations should not be in conflict.
Documents required in case of Foreign National:
- A copy of passport and visa
- A certificate of NOC or marital status certificate from the concerned embassy
- Proof of residence (either one parties) or report from the concerned SHO
With Court Marriages gaining popularity in India these days, it is important to be aware of the various rules involved to make things official and legal. Many couples are opting for it as it does away with rituals and ceremonies and is simple. There are numerous reasons why court marriages are the preferred choice these days. From wanting to keep the marriage an economical and simple affair to inter-caste marriages between couples without the blessings of the families. Whatever may be the case, opting for a court marriage can be simple if you produce all the necessary documents and follow the rules suggested above