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SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT

Ministry of Law and Justice

Act nº 43 of 1954


  • Chapter I
  • Chapter II
  • Chapter III
  • Chapter IV
  • Chapter V
  • Chapter VI
  • Chapter VII
  • Chapter VIII
  • Schedules
  • Amending Acts
  • Act nº 43 of 1954

Preamble

THE SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT, 1954

[Act, No. 43 of 1954]1

[9th October, 1954]

PREAMBLE

An Act to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases, for the registration of such and certain other marriages and for divorce.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fifth Year of the Republic of India as follows:--

1. The Act has been extended to Dadra and Nagar Haveli by Reg. 6 of 1963, Section 2 and Schedule I and to Pondicherry by Reg. 7 of 1963, Section 3 and Schedule I.


Chapter I

Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement

(1) This Act may be called the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and applies also to citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are1[in the State of Jammu and Kashmir].

(3) It shall come into force on such date2as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

1. Substituted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29, for "outside the said territories" (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).

2. Came into force on 1-1-1955, vide S.R.O. 3606, dated 17th December, 1954, published in the Gazette of India, Extr., 1954, Pt. II, Section 3, p. 2463.


Section 2. Definitions

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--

1[***]

(b) "degrees of prohibited relationship"--a man and any of the persons mentioned in Part I of the First Schedule and a woman and any of the persons mentioned in Part II of the said Schedule are within the degrees of prohibited relationship;

Explanation I.--Relationship includes,--

(a) relationship by half or uterine blood as well as by full blood;

(b) illegitimate blood relationship as well as legitimate;

(c) relationship by adoption as well as by blood;

and all terms of relationship in this Act shall be construed accordingly.

Explanation II.--"Full blood" and "half blood"--two persons are said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife and by half blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different wives.

Explanation III.--"Uterine blood"--two persons are said to be related to each other by uterine blood when they are descended from a common ancestress but by different husbands.

Explanation IV.--In Explanations II and III, "ancestor" includes the father and "ancestress" the mother;

2[***]

(d) "district" in relation to a Marriage Officer, means the area for which he is appointed as such under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of section 3;

3[(e) "district court" means, in any area for which there is a city civil court, that court, and in any other area, the principal civil court of original jurisdiction, and includes any other civil court which may be specified by the State Government by notification in the Official Gazette as having jurisdiction in respect of the matters dealt with in this Act;]

(f) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

4[(g) "State Government", in relation to a Union Territory, means the administrator thereto.]

1. Clause (a) omitted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29 (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).

2. Clause (c) omitted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29 (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).

3. Substituted by Act 68 of 1976, Section 20, for clause (e) (w.e.f. 27-5-1967).

4. Substituted by the Adaptation of Laws (No. 3) Order, 1956, for the original clause (g).


Section 3. Marriage Officers

(1) For the purposes of this Act, the State Government may, by, notification in the Official Gazette, appoint one or more Marriage Officers for the whole or any part of the State.

1[(2) For the purposes of this Act, in its application to citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify such officers of the Central Government as it may think fit to be the Marriage Officers for the State or any part thereof.]

1. Substituted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29, for sub-section (2) (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).


Chapter II

Section 4. Conditions relating to solemnization of special marriages

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force relating to the solemnization of marriages, a marriage between any two persons may be solemnized under this Act, if at the time of the marriage the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:--

(a) neither party has a spouse living;

1[(b) neither party--

(i) is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or

(ii) though capable of giving a valid consent, has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or

(iii) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity2[***];]

(c) the male has completed the age of twenty-one years and the female the age of eighteen years;

3[(d) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship:

Provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them, such marriage may be solemnized, notwithstanding that they are within the degrees of prohibited relationship; and]

4(e) where the marriage is solemnized in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, both parties are citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends].

5[Explanation.--In this section, "custom", in relation to a person belonging to any tribe, community, group or family, means any rule which the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf as applicable to members of that tribe, community, group or family:

Provided that no such notification shall be issued in relation to the members of any tribe, community, group or family, unless the State Government is satisfied--

(i) that such rule has been continuously and uniformly observed for a long time among those members;

(ii) that such rule is certain and not unreasonable or opposed to public policy; and

(iii) that such rule, if applicable only to a family, has not been discontinued by the family.]

1. Substituted by Act 68 of 1976, Section 21, for clause (b) (w.e.f. 27-5-1976).

2. The words "or epilepsy" omitted by Act 39 of 1999 (w.e.f. 29-12-1999).

3. Substituted by Act 32 of 1963, Section 2, for clause (d) (w.e.f. 22-9-1963).

4. Substituted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29, for clause (e) (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).

5. Inserted by Act 32 of 1963, Section 2 (w.e.f. 22-9-1963).


Section 5. Notice of intended marriage

When a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties to the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the form specified in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.

Section 6. Marriage Notice Book and publication

(1) The Marriage Officer shall keep all notices given under section 5 with the records of his office and shall also forthwith enter a true copy of every such notice in a book prescribed for that purpose, to be called the Marriage Notice Book, and such book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without fee, by any person desirous of inspecting the same.

(2) The Marriage Officer shall cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office.

(3) Where either of the parties to an intended marriage is not permanently residing within the local limits of the district of the Marriage Officer to whom the notice has been given under section 5, the Marriage Officer shall also cause a copy of such notice to be transmitted to the Marriage Officer of the district within whose limits such party is permanently residing, and that Marriage Officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.

Section 7. Objection to marriage

(1) Any person may, before the expiration of thirty days from the date on which any such notice has been published under sub-section (2) of section 6, object to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in section 4.

(2) After the expiration of thirty days from the date on which notice of an intended marriage has been published under sub-section (2) of section 6, the marriage may be solemnized, unless it has been previously objected to under sub-section (1).

(3) The nature of the objection shall be recorded in writing by the Marriage Officer in the Marriage Notice Book, be read over and explained if necessary, to the person making the objection and shall be signed by him or on his behalf.

Section 8. Procedure on receipt of objection

(1) If an objection is made under section 7 to an intended marriage, the Marriage Officer shall not solemnize the marriage until he has inquired into the matter of the objection and is satisfied that it ought not to prevent the solemnization of the marriage or the objection is withdrawn by the person making it; but the Marriage Officer shall not take more than thirty days from the date of the objection for the purpose of inquiring into the matter of the objection and arriving at a decision.

(2) If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection and refuses to solemnize the marriage, either party to the intended marriage may, within a period of thirty days from the date of such refusal, prefer an appeal to the district court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the Marriage Officer has his office, and the decision of the district court on such appeal shall be final, and the Marriage Officer shall act in conformity with the decision of the court.

Section 9. Powers of Marriage Officers in respect of inquiries

(1) For the purpose of any inquiry under section 8, the Marriage Officer shall have all the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), when trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:--

(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;

(b) discovery and inspection;

(c) compelling the production of documents;

(d) reception of evidence of affidavits; and

(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses;

and any proceeding before the Marriage Officer shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of section 193 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

Explanation.--For the purpose of enforcing the attendance of any person to give evidence, the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Marriage Officer shall be the local limits of his district.

(2) If it appears to the Marriage Officer that the objection made to an intended marriage is not reasonable and has not been made in good faith he may impose on the person objecting costs by way of compensation not exceeding one thousand rupees and award the whole or any part thereof, to the parties to the intended marriage, and any order for costs so made may be executed in the same manner as a decree passed by the district court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the Marriage Officer has his office.

Section 10. Procedure on receipt of objection by Marriage Officer abroad

Where an objection is made under section 7 to a Marriage Officer1[in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in respect of an intended marriage in the State], and the Marriage Officer, after making such inquiry into the matter as he thinks fit, entertains a doubt in respect thereof, he shall not solemnize the marriage but shall transmit the record with such statement respecting the matter as he thinks fit to the Central Government, and the Central Government, after making such inquiry into the matter and after obtaining such advice as it thinks fit, shall give its decision thereon in writing to the Marriage Officer who shall act in conformity with the decision of the Central Government.

1. Substituted by Act 33 of 1969, Section 29, for certain words (w.e.f. 31-8-1969).


Section 11. Declaration by parties and witnesses

Before the marriage is solemnized the parties and three witnesses shall, in the presence of the Marriage Officer, sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule to this Act, and the declaration shall be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.

Section 12. Place and form of solemnization

(1) The marriage may be solemnized at the office of the Marriage Officer, or at such other place within a reasonable distance therefrom as the parties may desire, and upon such conditions and the payment of such additional fees as may be prescribed.

(2) The marriage may be solemnized in any form which the parties may choose to adopt:

Provided that it shall not be complete and binding on the parties unless each party says to the other in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses and in any language understood by the parties,--"I, (A), take the (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)."