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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 Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides for the rules and documents required under the process of 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:
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]
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.
The affidavit about Court Marriage must contain the following Court Marriage information:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 every 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 process of Court Marriage 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
What is the procedure for Court Marriage 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:
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:
“Any marriage 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.