Court Marriages in India: Detailed guide on Procedure, documents and legal insight
Court Marriages, in short, implies legalizing your marriage. It is a widely followed practice in India and is extremely appreciated by many people or couples, who prefer to solemnize their marriage or keep the affair simple and economical. Special Marriage Act, 1954 has enacted the concept of ‘Court Marriage’, as it provides for marriage, between parties belonging to two different religion, caste or creed or nationality, by way of civil ceremony. It is the only way to solemnize as well as register a marriage, that too, at the same time.
Necessary conditions to fulfill before entering into Court Marriage….a sneak-peak
The respected Special Marriage Act, 1954 has registered Court Marriages in the eyes of Indian law. The parties have to meet the essential conditions prescribed in the act before mutually entering or signing the Civil Marriage Contract. These conditions are as follows:-
- Neither of the two parties should have a subsisting valid marriage with any other person.
- The age of the bride should be 18 years and the groom should be 21 years.
- Both the parties should be of sound mind that they are able to give their valid consent for marriage. Also, neither of the party should be unfit for marriage or procreation of children.
- Both the parties should not, by any means, fall in the degrees of prohibited relationship as provided in Schedule I of the Act unless it is held valid in the customs or traditions of the religion of any of the two parties.
Planning for the big day is not an easy affair: Take a close look at the procedure
- Filing application/ notice of intended marriage:
The parties involved in marriage have to file a notice/application in writing in the prescribed format provided in Schedule II of the Special Marriage Act.
The notice has to be submitted to the Marriage Registrar of the district in which any one of the parties have resided for at least 30 days preceding from the date of serving the mentioned notice.
- Wait for the Publication of Notice:
The notice given to the Marriage Registrar is required to publish the notice at the noticeable place in his/her office and another copy in the Marriage Registrar office of the district, if the other party is a permanent resident of that district. The waiting period commences from the date of publication and last for 30 days unless any objection is raised.
- Pray to receive no-objection to the marriage:
Any person can raise objection to the marriage to the Marriage officer of the district on the specified conditions as mentioned in Chapter II, Section 4 of the Act. If Marriage Officer receives any objection within the 30 days from the date of publication of notice, the marriage cannot be solemnized.
- What’s the solution, if objection is filed?
Either of the party to the marriage can file an appeal at the District Court within the local limits of the district under the jurisdiction of Marriage Officer within 30 days from the date of refusal to solemnize the marriage.
- Solemnization of Marriage:
If no objection is received before the expiry of 30 days, the marriage may be solemnized at the Specified Marriage Office. The parties to the marriage must be present at the office along with 3 witnesses at the Office on the given date of Registration/Solemnization.
- “I …….. take the …….., to be my lawful wife/husband.”
After the submission of all the documents, declaration and needed signatures, has to state these golden words in front of the officer.
- Marriage Certificate:
The Marriage Certificate is the conclusive evidence of the Court Marriage. It is issued by the officer in the specified format which has to be signed by both the parties and 3 witnesses.
Vital Documents for Court Marriage…….A Checklist to remember
- Application Form for Marriage in prescribed format along with specified fees
- Passport size Photos of Bride and Bridegroom
- Residential proof of the parties to the marriage
- Proof of Date of Birth of both the parties
- Address Proof and PAN Card of all the 3 witnesses
- Death Certificate/Divorcee (optional)- in case either of the parties had former marriage history
What if one party to the marriage is a foreign national?
Under Special Marriage Act of India, if one party to the marriage is a foreign national, then also marriage may be solemnized before the Marriage Registrar in India or Marriage Officer in a foreign country.
The Conditions or the eligibility criterion and procedure in India remains the same but certain additional documents are needed. Let’s take a look:-
- Copy of Passport of both the parties to marriage and their valid visa
- Proof of stay in the concerned district in preceding 30 days or report from the concerned SHO
- NOC or Marital status Certificate from the concerned embassy or consulate in India by the party’s foreign partner, if any
Do you need to engage with a lawyer for Court Marriage?
The answer depends on the understanding of the court marriage registration procedure by the Parties to the Marriage. Indeed, it is not mandatory but yes, a lawyer can better resolve any forthcoming legal issues or help/guide you in filling or submitting the documents/formats involved in the procedure mentioned above. Also, if there is any apprehension of objection, hiring a lawyer would be a wise move as one can help in filing appeals or fighting your case in the court on valid legal points.
A quick glimpse on the procedure and documents for ‘Registration of Marriage’
As per the directives issued by the Honorable Supreme Court in 2006, Marriage Registration is compulsory, irrespective of your religion. The registration procedure is specified in Hindu Marriage Act as well as Special Marriage Act,
Documents required for registration
- Signed Application form for registration by both the parties
- Passport sized photos of both & 1 marriage photograph
- Marriage invitation card (optional)
- Proof of Date of Birth by the married parties
- Proof of Residence as per the specified list of acceptable documents
- Proof of Marriage- Certificate from priest who solemnized the marriage
- Proof of conversion, if any of the two parties is a convert (certificate from priest)
- Affidavit by both the parties declaring the truthfulness about their aforementioned particulars
- Affirmation that both parties are not related to each other within the specified prohibited relationships
- Copy of divorce decree/ death certificate of deceased former spouse, as applicable
Important thing to note is that all the documents accept application has to be attested by the Gazette Officer.
Procedure for Registration as per The Hindu Marriage act
- Submit the properly filled & signed Application to the Sub-registrar’s area where the marriage took place or the Marriage Registrar office where either of the spouses have stayed for past 6 months.
- Submit the attested photocopies of all the aforementioned documents.
- Deposit the fees and attach the acknowledgment receipt along with the form
- After verification of documents, the concerned officer will allot a date for registration and accordingly issue the marriage certificate
Procedure is almost the same as that of Court Marriage Registration in Special Marriage Act.
- Submit the notice/application to the Sub Registrar or Marriage Officer
- The Notice shall be published in the prescribed offices for 30 days.
- Registration will be issued only if no objection is received from any person.
- In case of objection, enquiry will be conducted and only after the conclusion, registration certificate will be issued.