Special Marriage Act 1964

Special Marriage Act 1964

Marriages in India may be an event to rejoice one’s solemnization and a matter of pomp & show, but the legal side of it is generally ignored by the people. The effort to get a marriage registered is hardly being taken by the couples, even though the law binds them to get it done. In 1955, the parliament of India enacted The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, which came into force to administer Hindu Marriages in India Muslim Marriage Law for Islamic Weddings. But it is lesser-known fact that A Special marriage act passed in 1954, which aimed at governing a special form of marriage that involves an Indian or an Indian living in foreign getting married to a person of another nationality, caste, creed or religion.

The act was the adoption of proposed law during the 19th century as a part of Act III 1872. It allows nonconformists to enforce a marriage of their choice and legitimizing it. The marriage may further result in the disseverment of one’s own religion and adoption of a new one. Facing a lot of flak initially, for its forwardness to encourage a marriage against then societal norms, it eventually came into force in 1954. Here in this piece of Information, we shall discuss the Special Marriage Act and study in-depth as to how it works and what are the legal provisions and repercussions of the same. The Act applies to any person irrespective of his/her religion. The applicability extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to the intending spouses (both Indian nationals and foreigners living abroad)


The whole act can precisely be distributed into four parts:

  1. The process (Solemnization of Marriage)
  1. After the satisfaction on terms relating to the age of male and female (21 & 18 respectively); sanity; prohibited relationship and geographical conditions, the parties hall give due notice of intended marriage to marriage officer.
  2. The notice to be published by a marriage officer in a book prescribed for that purpose.
  3. Provided there is no objected being cited against the marriage by any person within 30 days of notice publication,
  4. After the objection have been duly inquired and dealt with, the marriage officer, upon declaration signed by the parties and countersigned by himself, may decide the place and date of solemnization of marriage and issue certificate.
  5. In case the marriage is not been formalized within 3 months of decided date, the entire process from point 1 has to be re-performed by both the parties.


  1. Registration of Marriages
  1. The registration is optional under the Act, however is recommended to get the marriage registered under for evidences purpose.
  2. The conditions for registration of marriage is more or less same as solemnization, except the registration would be done after the marriage only.
  3. The application shall be forwarded by the couple seeking registration to the marriage officer, upon which the officer shall, after providing for 30 days of public notice for objection by anyone, shall register the marriage, and enter the marriage certificate in marriage certificate book in prescribed form and format.
  4. An appeal, in case of non-performance of Marriage officer of his duties, or in case of unnecessary delay in registration, may be pushed against the officer, to the district court.


  1. Restitution and Nullity of Marriages
  1. The special marriage act 1955 vests powers to facilitate conjugal rights of either party upon failure of one party to adhere to the rights and privileges involved in a marriage.
  2. Either party may apply by petition to the district court having location-wise jurisdiction in case the other party has infringed the rights of the aggrieved party and the court upon enough evidences and after giving an opportunity of being heard may pass a decree of restitution of conjugal right thereafter.
  3. Upon passing of the decree of separation by the district court, the husband and wife are not bound to live together.
  4. As for nullity of marriages under the act, if either or both parties fail to adhere to basic rights/duties/responsibilities in a marriage or if they fail to obey the legal constitution by not fulfilling any of the conditions stipulated therein the Act, the marriage shall be considered null and void and no enforcement as to divorce or separation may then be executed in future.
  5. A decree for divorce upon non-adherence of rules and norms stated in the act, may also be executed either the couple mutually or the court, in case if it thinks it is necessary to do so, provided not less 3 years have been passed since the marriage took place.
  6. The provisions relating to re-marriage of the divorced persons is also allowed, provided there has been no objection from either of the parties and no party has appealed against the re-marriage taking place.


  1. Jurisdictions and Adjudication of Rights of either parties. 
  1. As stipulated in the points above, the authority to hear all the appeals of the matters under this act would be District Court within local limits by way of petition.
  2. Due verification of the contents of the petitioner by some competent person and shall further be used as evidence.
  3. The proceedings under the act shall be conducted in camera if either party request the court for the same.
  4. The court may thereupon, may grant relief to the aggrieved part by way of passing decree/order, or settle disputes as the case may be.
  5. The court may also put incumbent upon the male counterpart to provide for the financial assistance of the wife, in case she has no independent income, in case a divorce has been proceeded with.
  6. Likewise, the custody of children, in their best interest in terms of livelihood and education, may also be decided by the court after giving both parties, an opportunity if being heard.

The Special Marriage Act has infused a lot of confidence in the decision making of individuals. However, it must not be used to abuse the provisions in a negative perspective or to purposely infringe the rights and entitlements of the others.

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