The Special Marriage Act deals with inter caste and inter-religion marriages.
Inter-caste marriage is a marriage between people belonging to two different castes.
The Special Marriage Act is a special legislation that was enacted to provide for a special form of marriage, by registration where the parties to the marriage are not required to renounce his/her religion.
Application of the Act
This Act covers marriages among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. This act applies to every state of India, except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This Act extends not only to the Indian citizens belonging to different castes and religions but also to the Indian nationals living abroad.
As Indians believe in marriages with proper rituals, customs and ceremonies involving pomp and show & extravagant celebrations, the Special Marriage Act does not require any of them. The basic requirement for a valid marriage under this Act is the consent of both the parties to the marriage. If both the parties are ready to marry each other, that suffices it; here caste, religion, race, etc. cannot and do not act as a hindrance to their union.
For marriage under this Act, the parties need to file a notice expressing their intention to marry each other, with the Marriage Registrar of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for at least 30 days preceding the date on which such notice is being filed. The marriage is then said to be solemnized after the expiry of 30 days from the date on which such notice has been published. But if any person related to the parties objects this marriage and the Registrar finds it to be a reasonable cause of objection, then he can cancel the marriage on such grounds. For a valid marriage, it is also required that the parties give their consent to the marriage in front of the Marriage officer and three witnesses.
The conditions required to be followed for this special form of marriage is not very different from the requirements of other normal marriages, which happen within the caste. These are the conditions to be eligible for a marriage under this Act: –
- The bridegroom must be at least 21 and the bride must be at least 18 years of age at the time of marriage. This is the minimum age limit for a boy/girl to marry, respectively.
- Both the parties must be monogamous at the time of their marriage; i.e. they must be unmarried and should not have any living spouse at that time.
- The parties should be mentally fit in order to be able to decide for themselves e., they must be sane at the time of marriage.
- They should not be related to themselves through blood relationships; i.e. they should not come under prohibited relationships, which will otherwise act as a ground to dissolve their marriage.
These are the basic requirements for a valid marriage under the Special Marriage Act, which every Indian must know.
Legitimacy of children
A marriage is said to be void, where the conditions mentioned in point no.4 are not met with, and the children from such marriages who would have been legitimate if the marriage had been valid, shall be legitimate, whether such child is born before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976), and whether or not a decree of nullity is granted in respect of that marriage under this Act and whether or not the marriage is held to be void otherwise than on a petition under this Act as mentioned in Sec.26 of the act.
Application on succession Rights
Another important point that every Indian should have knowledge about SMA is that, the succession to property of persons married under this act or any marriage registered under this act and that of their children will be governed under the Indian Succession Act. But, if the parties to the marriage belong to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religions, then the succession to their property will be governed under the Hindu succession Act.
Restriction on Divorce during 1st yr of marriage
Any person married under the Special Marriage Act, must know about this important provision of the Act. The parties cannot petition for divorce to the District court unless and until one year has expired from the date of their marriage as registered in the marriage books. But, in cases where the court is of the opinion that the petitioner has suffered exceptional hardships or the respondent has shown exceptional depravity on their part, a petition for divorce would be maintained, but if any misrepresentation is found on the part of the petitioner to apply for divorce before the expiry of 1 yr, the court may if any order has been passed, state the order to take effect only after the expiry of 1 yr, as mentioned in sec. 29 of the Act.
Can they remarry?
Talking, about the option of remarriage available to marriages of persons registered under SMA, one important thing that has to be paid attention is that, where the marriage has been dissolved and there is no right of appeal available, or there is no petition made for it in the required period, or appeal if presented is dismissed, then the parties may remarry, as provided by the Act.
Hence, the above discussed general and legal aspects of Special Marriage Act, holds high importance not only for the people who have registered their marriage under the act but also to all the citizens of the country in order to have a better understanding of the law and treat the marriages between different castes and religions to be equally sacred and auspicious like the marriages between one’s own caste. With my article I assume to have made my point on Special Marriage Act which every Indian should know, and once they know, the country will surely become a better place to live with the crimes of honor killing and torture etc. to come to an end.
FOR MORE DETAILS CALL:
Adv. Gajanan Rahate
E_mail: [email protected]