Date:June 30, 2022
Here we will discuss the question of to whom the Special Marriage Act 1954 Applies, and also the History of the Special Marriage Act in the later part of this Law Article.
The preamble of the Special Marriage Act 1954 provides this :
An Act to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases, for the registration of such and certain other marriages and for divorce.
Special Marriage Act, Applicable to the marriage solemnised as per the provisions of sections 4 to 14 of Special Marriage Act, 1954
In Pranav Kumar Mishra & ANR vs. Govt of NCT of Delhi & ANR (WP (C) No. 748 / 2009, Mr. Justice S Ravindra Bhat overserved that : Special Marriage Act was enacted to enable a special form of marriage for any Indian national, professing different faiths, or desiring a civil form of marriage
In Smt. Seema vs. Ashwani Kumar Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 291 of 2005, the division bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia observed that Special Marriage Act, 1954 which applies to Indian citizens irrespective of religion each marriage is registered by the Marriage Officer specially appointed for the purpose.
In the case of Smt. Sufiya Sultana vs. the State of UP (Habeas Corpus No. 16907 of 2020 the Lucknow bench of UP High Court observed that: Two Indians living wheresoever, and whether professing the same or different religion (or no religion at all), could solemnise their marriage provided that they fulfilled conditions provided under Section 4 of the said Act (Special Marriage Act)
Thus provisions of the Special Marriage Act are applicable to:
1. Any Indian national who marries under the provisions of Section 4 to 14 of the Special Marriage Act
2. Any Indian national, professing different faiths, or desiring a civil form of marriage can marry under this Act.
3. Every Indian citizen irrespective of religion which marriage is registered by the Marriage Officer specially appointed for the purpose.
4. Two Indians living wheresoever, and whether professing the same or different religions (or no religion at all), they can marry under the Special Marriage Act, and provisions of the special marriage act is applicable on them.
A Bill was introduced by Sir Henry Maine for the first time proposing a law for inter-cast and inter-religion marriages in India.
The proposed Bill permitted any two citizens of India to marry under the same instead of their respective personal laws. The Bill was vehemently opposed in the legislature and was vastly modified before it was enacted and enforced on 22nd March 1872 as the Special Marriage Act, 1872 (Act of 1872).
The law, as passed, provided that any two persons after declaring complete severance from their respective faith can marry under the Act of 1872.
The Act of 1872 was amended in the year 1923 and thereafter it became permissible for the individuals to marry under the same without renouncing their religion
With the independence of India and coming into force of a Constitution in January, 1950, the Parliament proceeded to revisit the personal laws and laws with regard to marriages and thus along with other enactments, it also passed the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (Act of 1954).
Under the Act of 1954 any two Indians living wheresoever, and whether professing the same or different religions (or no religion at all), could solemnize their marriage provided that they fulfilled the conditions provided under Section 4 of the said Act.
Act of 1954 also provided that an existing marriage, solemnized under whatever law, could be registered under the new law, if the same fulfilled the conditions provided therein.
After registration, the marriage stood covered under the provisions of Act of 1954 and not under the personal law wherein it was initially solemnized.
The Act of 1954 also prescribes rights of persons concerned with regard to separation, divorce and inheritance etc. including judicial procedures for enforcement of the same and thus came in force a complete code with regard to civil marriages in India.
The Act of 1954 was also amended from time to time as per the changing needs of society.
The procedure of publishing a notice and inviting objections from public at large, as was provided under Act of 1872 was, thus, also adopted by the Act of 1954 with minor variations.
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