Marriage laws in India

In my write up today I would like to make you aware of the legal consequences of offences relating to Indian Marriage and also I would like to alert the person who is aggrieved, to take legal steps to set things right.

To take legal step, one should be aware of the heads of offences which are punishable under law and I would like to arm the innocent person with awareness of the legal action he/she can initiate without hesitation to build a healthy society.

Before that I would like to make one point very clear, before initiating any legal action a thorough introspection and interaction with elders and well wishers and legal advisor is necessary to avoid any foolish, hasty, irreparable and irreversible consequence!

Now a days I have seen many matrimonial cases piling up in the Courts just because of either hasty decisions or because of lack of awareness of law from the teenage level. And in the name of free society many girls/boys are unknowingly getting entangled in legal battle.

In early days say about 25-30 years back people were hesitant to move to Court out of social stigma that law is not for us to invoke and it is only Dharma/Culture and Tradition that should rule the mind.

But after the advent of T.V., Mobile, Internet etc. etc. total approach of an average person towards life has changed drastically. What were impossible has become possible! Prudent people used it for positive and productive purposes and fools and crocked used it for destruction of family and nation.

Because of advent of many gadgets most of the people have become dreamy and they are moving away from truths of life, moral and ethical values, social responsibilities and family values.

By this I dont say one should not update oneself and avail the facility instead I want to say when the people are moving away from the Tradition/Cultural values it is high time the people be aware of their Rights and Obligations under the Law of the Land to take precautions and prudent decisions in every stage of their life and live harmoniously and peacefully.

As Marriage gives a special status to an individual likewise his/her rights and obligations plays an important role after Marriage.

Mere cohabiting does not confer any legal marital status/right unless it is supported by a legal Marriage ceremony/registration

In family Courts we see both Educated/Uneducated-Rich/Poor alike fighting for their rights on one or the other ground.

Here in India we dont have common code of personal Law for all yet. For eg. The Hindus are governed by the Hindu Law and Muslims are governed according to Mohmmedan Law as far as their succession/Will/Gift and marriages are concerned.
So a persons succession or matrimonial rights/obligation are decided according to the religion he/she belongs to.
But there are Offences relating to Marriage under Indian Penal Code which govern the entire citizens of India – the topic which I would like to share with you now.

How are offences classified by the criminal procedure code ?
( for reference)
The Criminal Procedure Code discusses three kinds of offences as follows:

Bailable and non-bailable offences : Bailable offences are those in which the accused has the right to get bail. Non-bailable offences, on the other hand, are those in which the decision to grant bail or not rests with the court. Bailable offences are less serious in nature than non-bailable ones.

Cognizable and non-cognizable offences : Cognizable offences are those in which the police officer can arrest an offender without a warrant. In non-cognizable offences, the police officer cannot arrest without a warrant. Cognizable offences are more serious than non-cognizable ones.

Compoundable and non-compoundable offences : Compoundable offences are those which can be compromised by the parties to the dispute. The permission of the court is not necessary. When an offence is compounded, the party, who has been aggrieved by the offence, is compensated for his grievance. Suppose your car accidentally hits a person on the road and he is injured. Though you may be guilty of rash and negligent driving, you can settle the matter by paying some money to the victim.Non-compoundable offences are those which can not be compromised by any means. e.g. murder is a non-compoundable offence.

What happens if a man cohabits deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage ?
IPC Sec. 493: Every man who by deceit causes any woman who is not lawfully married to him to believe that she is lawfully married to him and to cohabit to have sexual intercourse with him in that belief, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Classification of Offence : The Offence under this section is non-cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

Caution to youngsters :
Only legal marriages are recognized under law that is to say for example unlawful cohabitation is not recognized by law as legal marriage and no man/woman will have legal status as husband and wife and consequently the aggrieved person cannot exercise any maintenance or property rights against the other person.
But as the offence under sec.493 IPC is punishable – Complaint may be lodged and the offender may be punished according to the law.

What happens when :

Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife [BIGAMY] ?
IPC Sec.494 : whoever having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.
Exception: This section does not extend to any person whose marriage with such husband or wife has been declared void by a court of competent jurisdiction, nor to any person who contracts a marriage during the life of a former husband or wife, if such husband or wife, at the time of the subsequent marriage, shall have been continually absent from such person as being alive within that time provided the person contracting such subsequent marriage shall, before such marriage takes place, inform the person with whom such marriage is contracted of the real state of facts so far as the same are within his or her knowledge.

Classification of Offence: The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable with permission of the Court before which any prosecution of such offence is pending and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

Bigamy is an Offence under section 17 of Hindu Marriage Act:
Section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act lays down that any marriage between two Hindus solemnized after the commencement of the Act if at the date such marriage either party has a spouse living would attract section 494 section 495 of Indian Penal Code. But the word solemnized means that the marriage is solemnized with proper ceremonies. So in order to attract section17 of the Hindu Marriage Act the alleged second marriage shall be a valid marriage under the Hindu law. Mere going through certain ceremonies is not enough when the essential ceremonies were not performed. *{Essential Ceremonies of Hindu Marriage:A Hindu marriage can take place according to the customary rites and ceremonies.The ceremony of saptapadi and kanyadana are important ceremonies prevalent among vast majority of Hindus and the ceremony of saptapadi before the sacred fire has been held essential for a valid Hindu Marriage.}

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSON MARRIES AGAIN CONCEALING THE FIRST MARRIAGE?
Section 495 IPC : Same Offence with concealment of former marriage from person with whom subsequent marriage is contracted – Whoever commits the offence defined in the last preceding section having concealed from the person with whom the subsequent marriage is contracted, the fact of the former marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Classification of Offence: The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN – MARRIAGE CEREMONY FRADULENTLY GONE THROUGH WITHOUT LAWFUL MARRIAGE?
Section 496 IPC: Whoever, dishonestly or with a fraudulent intention, goes through the ceremony of being married, knowing that he is not thereby lawfully married, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Classification of Offence: The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

WHAT IS ADULTERY?
Section 497 IPC: Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
Classification of Offence: The Offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, Compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ENTICING OR TAKING AWAY OR DETAINING WITH CRIMINAL INTENT A MARRIED WOMAN?
Section 498 IPC : Whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of any other man, from the man or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Classification of Offence The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.

OF CRUELTY BY HUSBAND OR RELATIVES OF HUSBAND
Section 498A IPC : Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation-For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-
(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her meet such demand.]

VALIDITY OF MARRIAGE & REGISTRATION IN INDIA
WHAT IS LEGAL MARRIAGE?
Marriage which is lawful and recognized by the Law of the Land.
India is a land of many cultures and religions. Each citizen of India is entitled to have his own personal laws in the matter of marriage and divorce. There are different rules and regulations for different religions. For example there are Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, and Christian Marriage Act and for the Parsee there is Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act.

In India, a religious marriage ceremony is considered a legal marriage. However registration of marriage is now a legal requirement in most of the states in India. Moreover, for visa and immigration purposes a formal marriage certificate from the Registrar of Marriages is required. There are different rules and regulations for different religions. For example there are Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, and Christian Marriage Act and for the Parsee there is Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act.

CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE UNDER HINDU LAW
In case of the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, they are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,
Sec.5.of Hindu Marriage Act : Conditions for a Hindu marriage.
A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:-
i) neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage
ii) at the time of the marriage, neither party-
(a) is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or
(b) 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
(c) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;
iii) the bridegroom has completed the age of twenty-one years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage;
iv) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two;
v) the parties are not sapindas of each other, unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.

Sec.7. Hindu Marriage Act : Ceremonies for a Hindu marriage.
1) A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto.
2) Where such rites and ceremonies include the saptapadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken.

Sec.8. of Hindu Marriage Act: Registration of Hindu marriages.
1) For the purpose of facilitating the proof of Hindu marriages, the State Government may make rules providing that the parties to any of such marriage may have the particulars relating to their marriage entered in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed in a Hindu Marriage Register kept for the purpose.
2) Notwithstanding any thing contained in sub-section (1), the State Government may, if it is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do, provide that the entering of the particulars referred to in sub-section (1) shall be compulsory in the State or in any part thereof, whether in all cases or in such cases as may be specified, and where any such direction has been issued, any person contravening any rule made in this behalf shall be punishable with fine which may extend to twenty-five rupees.
3) All rules made under this section shall be laid before the State Legislature, as soon as may be, after they are made.
4) The Hindu Marriage Register shall at all reasonable times be open for inspection, and shall be admissible as evidence of the statements therein contained and certified extracts there from shall, on application, be given by the Registrar on payment to him of the prescribed fee.
5) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the validity of any Hindu marriage shall in no way be affected by the omission to make the entry.

Divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 can be obtained on the various grounds.
Sec.13 of Hindu Marriage Act: Divorce.
1) Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party-
(i) has, after the solemnization of the marriage, had voluntary, sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse; or
(ia) has, after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or
(ib) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or
(ii) has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion; or
(iii) has been incurably of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Explanation – In this clause,-
(a) the expression “mental disorder” means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia;
(b) the expression “psychopathic disorder” means a persistent disorder or disability of mind (whether or not including sub-normality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the other party, and whether or not it require or is susceptible to medical treatment; or
(iv) has been suffering from a virulent and incurable from of leprosy; or
(v) has been suffering from venereal disease in a communicable from; or
(vi) has renounced the world by entering any religious order; or
(vii) has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years or more by those persons who would naturally have heard of it, had that party been alive.
Explanation- In this sub-section, the expression “desertion” means the desertion of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party, and includes the willful neglect of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage, and its grammatical variations and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly.
(1A) Either party to a marriage, whether solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act, may also present a petition for the dissolution of the marriage by a decree of divorce on the ground-
(i) that there has been no resumption of cohabitation as between the parties to the marriage for a period of [one year] or upwards after the passing of a decree for judicial separation in a proceeding to which they were parties; or
(ii) that there has been no restitution of conjugal rights as between the parties to the marriage for a period of [one year] or upwards after the passing of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights in a proceeding to which they were parties.
2) A wife may also present a petition for the dissolution of her marriage by a decree of divorce on the ground,-
(i) in the case of any marriage solemnized before the commencement of this Act, that the husband had married again before such commencement or that any other wife of the husband married before such commencement was alive at the time of the solemnization of the marriage of the petitioner:
Provided that in either case the other wife is alive at the time of the presentation of the petition; or
(ii) that the husband has, since the solemnization of the marriage, been guilty of rape, sodomy or 6[bestiality; or]
(iii) that in suit under section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, or in a proceeding under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, (or under the corresponding section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a decree or order, as the case may be, has been passed against the husband awarding maintenance to the wife notwithstanding that she was living apart and that since the passing of such decree or order, cohabitation between the parties has not been resumed for one year or upwards;
(iv) that her marriage (whether consummated or not) was Solemnized before she attained the age of fifteen years and she has repudiated the marriage after attaining that age but before attaining the age of eighteen years.
Explanation -This clause applies whether the marriage was solemnized before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976.

Sec.13A. Alternate relief in divorce proceedings. In any proceeding under this Act, on a petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce, except in so far as the petition is founded on the grounds mentioned in clauses (ii), (vi) and (vii) of sub-section (1) of section 13, the court may, if it considers it just so to do having regard to the circumstances of the case, pass instead a decree for judicial separation.

Sec.13B. – Divorce by mutual consent.
1) Subject to the provisions of this Act a petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce may be presented to the district court by both the parties to a marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnized before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976, (68 of 1976.) on the ground that they have been living separately for a period of one year or more, that they have not been able to live together and that thy have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved.
2) On the motion of both the parties made not earlier than six months after the date of the presentation of the petition referred to in sub-section (1) and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is not withdrawn in the meantime, the court shall, on being satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, that a marriage has been solemnized and that the averments in the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree.

Sec.14. – No petition for divorce to be presented within one year of marriage.
1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, it shall not be competent for any court to entertain any petition for dissolution of a marriage by a decree of divorce, unless at the date of the presentation of the petition one year has elapsed since the date of the marriage:
Provided that the court may, upon application made to it in accordance with such rules as may be made by the High Court in that behalf, allow a petition to be presented before one year has elapsed since the date of the marriage on the ground that the case is one of exceptional hardship to the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent, but if it appears to the court at the hearing of the petition that the petitioner obtained leave to present the petition by any misrepresentation or concealment of the nature of the case, the court may, if it pronounces a decree, do so subject to the condition that the decree shall not have effect until after the expiry of one year from the date of the marriage or may dismiss the petition without prejudice to any petition which may be brought after the expiration of the said one year upon the same or substantially the same facts as those alleged in support of the petition so dismissed.
2) In disposing of any application under this section for leave to present a petition for divorce before the expiration of one year from the date of the marriage, the court shall have regard to the interests of any children of the marriage and to the question whether there is a reasonable probability of a reconciliation between the parties before the expiration of the said one year.

Sec.15. – Divorced persons when may marry again.
When a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of divorce an either there is no right of appeal against the decree or, if there is such right of appeal, the time for appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented, or an appeal has been presented but has been dismissed it shall be lawful for either party to the marriage to marry again.

CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE UNDER MUSLIM LAW
Marriage or Nikah in Islamic law is a contract, need no writing and no sacred rites. All that is necessary is offer and acceptance made in the presence and hearing of two male or female witnesses and recording the factum of marriage in the Nikah Register maintained in every mosque signed by the parties and attested by witnesses. Gift is payable to the wife on the dissolution of marriage or death or divorce. There are six forms of divorce recognized under Islamic Law. They are Talaq, Talaq bu Tafweez, Kula and Mubaraat, Illah, Zibar and Lian. Talaq confers on Muslim husband the privilege of being able to discard his wife whenever he chooses to do so for reasons good, bad or indifferent indeed for no reason at all. Talaq-i-Tufeez is the exercise of the right of divorce by the wife by virtue of the power delegated to her husband at the time of marriage or even thereafter, Kula and Maturate are two forms of dissolution of marriage by consent. It is thus a kind of divorce by mutual consent. Illah is a constructive divorce in which the husband swears not to have sexual intercourse with his wife for 4 months and abstains from doing so. Zihar is a mode of divorce in which the husband compares his wife with his mother or any other female within prohibited degree. Lian is a divorce in which there is imputation of adultery to the wife by the husband and the wife is entitled to file a suit for dissolution of marriage on the charge of adultery.

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 enables a Muslim wife to seek divorce through court on the ground of whereabouts of the husband are unknowns for 4 years, failure of husband to provide for the maintenance of the wife for 2 years, sentence of imprisonment of the husband for 7 years, failure to perform martial obligations, impotency of the husband,or insanity of the husband, Repudiation of marriage by the wife before attaining the of 18 years cruelty of the husband and any other ground relevant at that point of time.
Similarly for the Parsees there is a Parsee Marriage & Divorce Act, 1939, which governs the provisions of their marriage law.

By the Parsi Marriage and Divorce (Amendment) Act, 1988 (5 of 1988), the extent of certain provisions of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 have been widened so as to bring them in line with the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Bigamy or Polygamy is punishable offence in Parsi Religion.

For Indian Christian there is a Indian Christian Marriage Act 1889.
For Indian Christian there is an Indian Christian Marriage Act 1889. The Christian marriage in India can be solemnized by any person or bishop who is either a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, any licensed minister of the religion or any licensed registrar. A person who has received episcopal ordination can also solemnize a Christian marriage.

MARRIAGE IN INDIA UNDER THE SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT
The Indian Special Marriage Act 1954 permits marriages between persons who are not of the same community or who have different religions or nationalities. The scope of the Act includes the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.The groom must be at least 21 years old, while the bride must be at least 18 years of age. Both parties should have full mental capacity and not be currently married.

Parties to the marriage must provide notice of their intention to solemnize the marriage before a marriage officer in the district where at least one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days prior to the notice.
Notice of the intended marriage is entered into the Marriages Notice Book, which is open for public inspection with an inspection fee. The public has the right to object to the marriage for the following 30 days. Any objections must be investigated and resolved within an additional 30 days.

Prior to the solemnization of the marriage, the parties and three witnesses must sign a declaration in front of a marriage officer, who will also sign the document. The marriage may be solemnized in any form that the parties wish to adopt as long as the solemnization occurs at the marriage officer’s office or any place that the marriage officer sanctions. The marriage must include the exchange of the following statement: “I (name of self) take you (name of partner) to be my lawful (wife or husband).” After the solemnization, the marriage officer will enter the certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book. The parties and the three witnesses must sign the certificate. The entry of the certificate in the book is deemed conclusive evidence of a lawful marriage.
Any marriage in India may be registered under this Act. The parties must jointly apply for the marriage registration. After 30 days of notice to the public, the marriage officer will enter the certificate into the Marriage Certificate Book. The spouses and three witnesses must sign the certificate.

REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGE IN INDIA
A marriage in India is required to be registered in most of the states The state governments are planning to make the registration of marriage compulsory for all. Moreover, the Indian Special Marriage Act, 1954, which applies to all citizens irrespective of their religion, requires the registration of marriages by a marriage officer.
In Hindus it is left to the discretion of the families of the bride and bridegroom to either solemnize the marriage before a registrar or register it after the marriage ceremony The non-registration of a marriage does not invalidate it under the Hindu Marriage Act.

In India, there is no need to register the Muslim marriage.
The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, makes the registration compulsory.
The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, makes the registration compulsory, as it provides for entry in a marriage register kept in the Church soon after the marriage ceremony along with the signatures of the bride and bridegroom.

The documents required for registering a marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act are as follows:

  • Application form duly signed by both husband and wife
  • Documentary evidence of date of birth of parties (Matriculation Certificate / Passport / Birth Certificate)
  • Minimum age of both parties is 21 years at the time of registration under the Special Marriage Act
  • Ration card of husband or wife whose area SDM has been approached for the certificate
  • Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationality
  • Two passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph
  • Marriage invitation card, if available
  • If marriage was solemnized in a religious place, a certificate from the priest is required who solemnized the marriage
  • Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act as the case may be
    Attested copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower
    In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage
    All documents excluding receipt should be attested by a Gazetted Officer
  • Verification of all the documents is carried out on the date of application and a day is fixed and communicated to the parties for registration. On the said day, both parties, along with a Gazetted Officer who attended their marriage, need to be present before the SDM. The marriage certificate under the Hindu Marriage Act is issued on the same day or within a few days.

Parties who do not wish to marry in a religious ceremony can instead opt for a civil ceremony pursuant to the Indian Special Marriage Act of 1954.

In case a marriage between an Indian and a foreign national is to take place in India, generally its required to file a notice of intended marriage with a Marriage Registrar of your choice in India. That notice is required to be published for the stipulated 30 days. At the end of the 30 days the Marriage Registrar is free to perform the marriage.

The notice of intended marriage can only be given in India, if at least one partner is permanently and the other partner temporarily resident in India.

If one partner is residing in a foreign country : then the partner who is resident in India will have to fill out the Marriage Notice collected from the Marriage Registration Office of his/her choice in India and send it to his/her partner in the foreign country who will also have to fill it out. This Notice should then be sent back to the partner in India who will have to re-submit it at the Marriage Registration Office. After the stipulated waiting period of 30 days the marriage can take place in India. Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 a certificate showing the signatures of the persons married, the registrar and the witnesses will be issued. This Certificate is required as proof of the marriage and when applying for a visa to for a foreign country.
The following documents are required for both the partners:

  • a valid Passport
  • Original Birth Certificate showing parents’ names
  • if the person concerned is widowed, the original death certificate of the deceased spouse
  • If divorced, copy of the final decree
  • documentary evidence regarding stay in India of the parties for more than 30 days (ration card or report from the concerned SHO)

The American citizen who wishes to participate in a civil marriage ceremony may be required to present to the marriage officer a no objection letter from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, as well as proof of termination of any previous marriages. Similarly, a citizen of another foreign country may be required to present to the marriage officer a no objection letter from the Embassy or Consulate of his country, as well as proof of termination of any previous marriages.

In a nutshell, under the Special Marriage Act, the parties generally are required to wait at least 30 days from the date of initial application to formalize the marriage so that the marriage officer can publish a newspaper ad allowing for the opportunity for any objections to the marriage to be voiced.

3 thoughts on “Marriage laws in India

  1. I have a few questions about the Special Marriage Act. I am a US citizen and my fiancee is from Ahmedabad, India. He hired a lawyer in India to file a marriage petition for us we submitted all required documents. Now 2 month later the lawyer is saying we have to be verified, and that someone from the court will have to visit both our homes and work and that we also need to submit out phone records for marriage license. Is this correct?

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