What is Court Marriage?
Court Marriages in India are different than the traditional marriages as they take place in court in the presence of a marriage officer without following the traditions in a customary marriage. Court Marriage is the solemnization of marriage between a male and a female who are eligible to marry without any bar to their caste, religion, or creed in front of a court, a marriage officer and in the presence of three witnesses. You don’t need a customary celebration to solemnize your wedding in case of Court Marriage in India.
The only condition is, it should satisfy the essentials of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It is not necessary for Court Marriage that both parties be of Indian nationality. Court Marriage can be done by an Indian national with a foreign national. Persons of two different gender either belonging to the same or different religion can marry each other through Court Marriage.
Court Marriage is in accordance with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which provides for:
- The Court Marriage age
- The prerequisite condition of Court Marriage
- Documents required for a Court Marriage
- Court Marriage fees and the entire Court Marriage process
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides for the rules and documents required under the process of Court Marriage.
Table of Content:
- What is Court Marriage?
- Pre-requisites of a Court Marriage
- Documents required for a Court Marriage
- Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage?
- Documents of the witnesses required for Court Marriage
- Fees involved in Court Marriage
- Total time is taken for the entire Court Marriage procedure
- What is the procedure of Court Marriage in India?
- Do I need to apply for a marriage certificate after the conclusion of the Court Marriage?
- Exceptions and other Conditions in the Procedure for Court Marriage
- Uniformity of Court Marriage Process in India
- Issues pertaining to Court Marriage
Pre-requisites of a Court Marriage
Court Marriage rules and regulations provide for the conditions which one needs to fulfill before going ahead with the Court Marriage process. These Court Marriage rules are given under Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act as well. The parties have to meet the essential conditions prescribed in the act before mutually entering or signing the Civil Marriage Contract. The conditions are as follows:
- No pre-existing marriage: There should be no pre-existing marriage for either the male or female unless the previous spouse is not living or divorce has been obtained from the previous spouse.
- Valid Consent: The parties must have given free consent for Court Marriage i.e., none of the parties intending to do Court Marriage should be incompetent of giving valid consent due to unsound mind or any other factor.
- Age: The parties must be eligible to marry i.e., they should be of Court Marriage age. The Court Marriage age for a boy is 21 years and the Court Marriage age for a girl is 18 years.
- Prohibited degrees of relationships: The parties to the marriage should not be related to each other under the prohibited degrees of marriage as provided in Schedule I of the Act. Unless it's valid in the customs or traditions of the religion of any of the two parties.
However, when a custom governing at least one of the parties permits the marriage between the parties then such a marriage may be solemnized irrespective of the relationship falling within the degrees of prohibited relationships.
[The prohibited degrees of relationships are mentioned at the end of the article]
Documents required for a Court Marriage
You need certain documents for completing the legal marriage process in court. Without these documents, the solemnization of the marriage process in India is not possible.
One requires the following documents from both the prospective bride and groom for the procedure of Court Marriage.
- Marriage Application form duly signed by both bride and groom
- Receipt of fees paid along with the application form
- Date of birth proof of both bride and groom (Class 10th Certificate/Passport/Birth Certificate)
- Residential address proof (Aadhar Card/Voter Card/Ration Card/Driving Licence)
- Affidavit one each from both the bride and groom.
The affidavit about Court Marriage must contain the following Court Marriage information:
- Date of birth
- Marital status whether unmarried, divorced or widowed
- A statement affirming that the parties are not related to each other under the prohibited degree of relationships
- 2 passport size photographs of both bride and groom
- Copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower
Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage?
Any person such as a family member, a family friend, a colleague or a friend can be a witness to a Court Marriage. Also, there must be three witnesses for the solemnization of valid Court Marriage.
Documents of the witnesses required for Court Marriage
Following documents are required for Court Marriage from the witness:
- Residential proof of the witness is the most important document which has to be furnished before the Marriage Officer.
- PAN Card of the witness must also be presented before the Marriage Officer.
- One passport size photograph each from the three witnesses to the marriage.
- An identification document of the witnesses such as Driving Licence, Aadhar Card, etc.
Fees involved in Court Marriage
Court Marriage fees are different in different states. Generally, Court Marriage procedure fees are between Rs 500 to Rs 1000. But it is always advisable to check the fees while filling in the online application for Court Marriage as It may also go beyond the cap because every state frames its own rules and regulations and prescribe its fee structure for the solemnization of Court Marriage.
One needs to attach the Court Marriage documents along with fees for completing the Court Marriage registration form.
"Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, any parties of all the religions belonging to any caste, creed, color or sex who want to get married without being involved in any customary tradition can do Court Marriage. It is an effective and very affordable process of marriage,” says Advocate Ankit Sharma.
Total time taken for the entire Court Marriage procedure
Usually, the entire process of solemnization of a Court Marriage requires 30 - 60 days. Post-publication of the notice of intention, a time period of 30 days is given, for any objection to being raised against the marriage, if any, by the Marriage Officer and if any objection is raised within that period, an inquiry period of 30 days is allotted for the Marriage Officer.
Note: If a marriage is not solemnized within 3 months from the date of the notice, then a fresh notice has to be given to the Marriage Officer for fresh conduct.
What is the procedure of Court Marriage in India?
The procedure for Court Marriage in India can be broadly divided into six steps.
Step 1: Notice of Intended Marriage
The first step of Court Marriage is acquiring notice of the intended marriage. The said notice has to be in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act. You have to send a written notice mandatorily to the marriage registrar showing the intention of the parties to marry each other. One needs to send the notice to the office of the marriage registrar, in whose district either of the party resides for a minimum of 30 days before sending the notice.
Step 2: Publishing of Notice
The notice sent to the office of the marriage registrar shall be published by the marriage officer by affixing it to a place in his office which is clearly visible while keeping the original copy of the notice in his notice book. If the notice of intention to marry is sent to the wrong office of marriage registrar then he shall forward the same to the officer in whose jurisdiction the parties reside so that the notice can be affixed at the right place.
Step 3: Objection to Marriage
Section 7 of the Special Marriage Act states that any person who has an objection to the marriage so intended can raise the objection within 30 days from the date of publication of notice by the marriage registrar. If the marriage registrar finds that the objection raised is correct, then he/she will end the process for the intended Court Marriage. But if he/she finds that the objection is unjustified, then he/she will proceed with the Court Marriage registration procedure. However, if the marriage registrar sustains the objection, then the parties can file an appeal with the district court against the order of marriage officer/registrar for completing the process of Court Marriage in India.
Step 4: Declaration by Parties and Witnesses
The next step as provided in the Court Marriage rules is the declaration by parties and witnesses. Before the Court Marriage is finalized, the Court Marriage form has to be signed by the parties along with three witnesses declaring that the parties are doing the marriage with free consent. The declaration Court Marriage form has to be signed in the presence of the marriage registrar.
Step 5: Place and Form of Solemnization
Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act states that the solemnization of Court Marriage can take place at the office of the marriage registrar or any other place at a reasonable distance. You can also solemnize your procedure of marriage by filling up the form online. The Court Marriage application online includes the payment procedure of Court Marriage fees to complete it.
Step 6: Procedure for Marriage Certificate
Once the solemnization of the marriage takes place according to the rules and regulations of Court Marriage, the marriage registrar enters the details of the marriage, in the marriage certificate in accordance with Schedule IV of the Special Marriage Act. The Court Marriage certificate is proof of a valid marriage statement signed by the parties and their witnesses and marriage certificate download can be done online also.
Exceptions and other Conditions in the Procedure for Court Marriage
The eligibility criteria for Court Marriage has certain exceptions. However, the marriage is prohibited between the prohibited degrees of relationship but the marriage can be solemnized between the prohibited degree of a relationship if your custom allows the same.
- Even if in the custom of one party to the marriage is allowed to marry in the prohibited relation, then also this exception will be applicable
- If the marriage has to be done in the state of Jammu & Kashmir then it is mandatory that both the parties to the marriage must be Indian citizens. It simply means that there is no procedure to get married in court with foreign nationals in the state of Jammu & Kashmir
- For a foreign national to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 they have to live in India for at least 30 days. They must have a residence proof as well
- In case they do not have Indian residence proof, they can get the same from the local police station in whose jurisdiction they are living
Uniformity of Court Marriage Process in India
Special Marriage Act is a secular act which is applicable to the persons of all religions uniformly. Thus, the procedure of Court Marriage is uniform for all persons with no bar to any religion. Every law updates itself from time to time, and till now, one can see constant updates in various acts and sections of the Indian law.
Issues pertaining to Court Marriage
One thing which is feasible about the Indian Court Marriage procedure is that the process of the court is a relatively simple one in comparison to the customary marriages, which start from filling an online application for Court Marriage till the registration of Court Marriage.
Despite it being the simple and easy way of marrying your loved one, there are certain complexities in a Court Marriage. The few complications which are involved in a Court Marriage procedure are as follows:
- Dates for Court Marriage are dependent upon the marriage registrar as to what date will he allot for appointment to come in person for solemnization of Court Marriage of the intended parties.
- Even if there is an emergency for an early date, allotting an early date isn't possible. As one has to give the date 30 days before from the date of publication of the notice. This is to see if anyone raises objections or not.
- Any person can prevent a Court Marriage from being solemnized for a long period by raising an objection against a Court Marriage within a stipulated time period and then the decision depends on the determination of the Marriage Officer and his findings on the matter.
- If there is an objection, then it can delay the process for Court Marriage till the marriage officer decides on this objection.
- If in case the process of applying for Court Marriage is online, one has to appear before the marriage registrar for solemnization of marriage. Also, online portals don't work in every part of the country.
- One requires to give the notice of marriage to the office of the marriage registrar in whose jurisdiction the parties to the marriage have been residing for a minimum of 30 days. It is such that you can't go anywhere else for completing the marriage process in India.
- The documents required, the fees to be paid and the persons appointed as Marriage Officers differ from place to place. It is generally as per the rules framed by the respective States.
- If the solemnization of marriage doesn't take place within 3 months from the date of the notice of marriage, then you have to give a fresh notice to the marriage officer for solemnizing the procedure of marriage.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need to apply for a marriage certificate after the conclusion of the Court Marriage?
Generally, a marriage registration certificate is an official document stating that two people are married. In India, Marriages can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. For both types of marriages, a marriage registration certificate is necessary for a couple who got married. The Apex Court has also made it compulsory to register marriage for preserving women’s rights. Hence, gaining a marriage registration certificate after marriage can have many benefits.
But since a Court Marriage is solemnized in front of the Marriage Officer, the complete solemnization takes place when the marriage certificate is entered and granted by the Marriage Registrar.
What is the Court Marriage process under the Special Marriage Act?
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 lays down the concept of the Hindu Court Marriage procedure in India as well. This allows people to complete the civil marriage procedure as follows:
STEP 1: Submit the notice/application to the Sub Registrar or Marriage Officer
STEP 2: The notice shall be published in the prescribed offices for 30 days
STEP 3: Registration will be issued only if no objection is received from any person
- In case of objection, an inquiry will be conducted and only after the conclusion, a registration certificate will be issued.
- The laws relating to marriage are laid down under the personal laws of the religion to which a person belongs.
- However, there is an option of Court Marriage for the people who don't wish to get married in accordance with the religious rites or who belong to different religions or if one of them is a foreign national.
What is the Court Marriage process in India as a Foreign National?
Before proceeding with this type of Court Marriage in India, the whole process includes firstly, to ensure eligibility of the persons getting married. Then. you should have all the requisite documents in place before filing the Court Marriage application with the Registrar.
To solemnize procedures for Court Marriage between a foreign national and an Indian citizen under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, one needs to keep the following points in mind:
- The laws of the nation to which the foreign national belongs, must not be in conflict with the Indian Laws
- In order for the foreign national to do Court Marriage in India, he/she must have a valid passport and visa
- N.O.C or Marital status certificate from the concerned Embassy or Consulate
A civil lawyer in India can help with the legal proceedings of such a Court Marriage in India.
What is the procedure of marriage between an Indian and a foreigner outside India?
The marriage between an Indian and a foreigner in a foreign country is mentioned in the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 and is inferred as a Civil Marriage. The process of a Court Marriage is absolutely the same as mentioned under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 but a No Impediment Certificate/NOC from concerned the Embassy and valid VISA is also required along with the other documents.
What are the advantages of a Court Marriage?
There can be many advantages in the case of Court Marriage. The advantages are:
- It is an easier process and involves lower costs as compared to traditional marriages.
- The parties to a Court Marriage get the option of solemnizing the marriage in any way of their choice. For instance, two Hindus can solemnize their marriage through a Sikh Style wedding if they choose to.
- The married couple doesn’t have to reapply to the marriage officer for registration of the marriage. Registration of Court Marriage is itself a part of the process of Court Marriage.
- The marriage certificate received at the conclusion of the Court Marriage is deemed to be conclusive proof of the marriage between the parties and there is no necessity to prove it otherwise by any other evidence.
“Any marriage is done with the accordance of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 provisions is a legally valid marriage and is given a marriage registration certificate which can be presented as legal evidence before the court,” says Advocate Ankit Sharma.
Who is a Marriage Officer? Where does the Court Marriage take place?
A Marriage Officer is a judicial officer who officiates a Court Marriage, having all the powers of a civil court. Any proceeding held before a marriage officer would be considered as a judicial proceeding.
The Court Marriage has to take place at the office of a marriage officer or at such other place within a reasonable distance. Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 entails the provision regarding the place of marriage.
Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-I
- Father’s widow (step-mother)
- Mother’s mother
- Mother’s father’s widow (step-grandmother)
- Mother’s mother’s mother
- Mother’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
- Mother’s father’s mother
- Mother’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
- Father’s mother
- Father’s father’s widow (step-grandmother)
- Father’s mother’s mother
- Father’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
- Father’s father’s mother
- Father’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
- Son’s widow
- Daughter’s daughter
- Daughter’s son’s widow
- Son’s daughter
- Son’s son’s widow
- Daughter’s daughter’s daughter
- Daughter’s daughter’s son’s widow
- Daughter’s son’s daughter
- Daughter’s son’s son’s widow
- Son’s daughter’s daughter
- Son’s daughter’s son’s widow
- Son’s son’s daughter
- Son’s son’s son’s widow
- Sister’s daughter
- Brother’s daughter
- Mother’s sister
- Father’s sister
- Father’s brother’s daughter
- Father’s sister’s daughter
- Mother’s sister's daughter
- Mother’s brother’s daughter
Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-II
- Mother’s husband (step-father)
- Father’s father
- Father’s mother’s husband (step-grandmother)
- Father’s father’s father
- Father’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
- Father’s mother’s father
- Father’s mother’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
- Mother’s father
- Mother’s mother’s husband (step-grandfather)
- Mother’s father’s father
- Mother’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
- Mother’s mother’s father
- Mother’s mother’s mother’s husband(step-great-grandfather)
- Daughter’s husband
- Son’s son
- Son’s daughter’s husband
- Daughter’s son
- Daughter’s daughter’s husband
- Son’s son’s son
- Son’s son’s daughter’s husband
- Son’s daughter’s son
- Son’s daughter’s daughter’s husband
- Daughter’s son’s son
- Daughter’s son’s daughter’s husband
- Daughter’s daughter’s son
- Daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s husband
- Brother’s son
- Sister’s son
- Mother’s brother
- Father’s brother
- Father’s brother’s son
- Father’s sister’s son
- Mother’s sister’s son
- Mother’s brother’s son