​​

ACTS AND RULES: OTHER ACTS

The Special Marriage Act, 1954

(NO. 43 of 1954)

Note1: This electronic version of this statute is reproduced for your convenience and personal use only and may not be copied for the purpose of resale in this or any other form. Formatting of this electronic version may differ from the official, printed version. Where accuracy is critical, please consult official gazette notifications.

2: The relevant proveniences on solemnization of marriage and filing of marriage are reproduced herewith for convenience. If you need full text you may consult THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955

[9th October, 1954.]

An Act to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases, for the registration of such and certain other marriages and for divorce.

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Fifth Year of the Republic of India as follows CHAPTERS.​

CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY

1. Short title, extent and commencement - (1) This Act may be called the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and applies also to citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are in the State of Jammu and Kashmir].

(3) It shall come into force on such date1 as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

2. Definitions -In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(b) degrees of prohibited relationship a man and any of the persons mentioned in Part I of the First Schedule and a woman and any of the persons mentioned in Part II of the said Schedule are within the degrees of prohibited relationship;

Explanation I. Relationship includes,

(a) relationship by half or uterine blood as well as by full blood;

(b) illegitimate blood relationship as well legitimate;

(c) relationship by adoption as well as by blood;

and all terms of relationship in this Act shall be construed accordingly.

1. 1st January, 1955, Vide Notification No. S.R.O. 3606, dated 17th December, 1954, Gazette of India, Extraordinary, 1954 Part II, s.3, page 2463.

Explanation II. - Full blood and half blood two persons are said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife and by half blood when they are descended from a Common ancestor but by different wives.

Explanation III. Uterine blood two persons are said to be related to each other by uterine blood when they are descended from a common ancestress but by different husbands.

Explanation IV In Explanations II and III, ancestor includes the father and ancestress the mother;

(d) district in relation to a Marriage Officer, means the area for which he is appointed as such under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of section 3;

(e) district court means, in any area for which there is a city civil court, that court, and in any other area, the principal civil court of original jurisdiction, and includes any other civil court which may be specified by the State Government by notification in the Official Gazette as having jurisdiction in respect of the matters dealt with in this Act;]

(f) prescribed means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(g) State Government in relation to a Union territory, means the administrator thereof.

3. Marriage Officers. (1) For the purposes of this Act, the State Government may, by1 notification in the Official Gazette, appoint one or more Marriage Officers for the whole or any part of the State.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, in its application to citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify such officers of the Central Government as it may think fit to be the Marriage Officers for the State or any part thereof.

1. Government of Karnataka hereby appoints the District Registrars and the Sub-Registrars functioning under the Indian Registration Act, 1908 (Central Act 16 of 1908) to be marriage officers for the areas under their irrespective jurisdiction [Notification No. HD 1 CIM 59 dated 27-1-1959].

CHAPTER II
SOLEMNIZATION OF SPECIAL MARRIAGES

4. Conditions relating to solemnization of special marriages. - Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force relating to the solemnization of marriages, a marriage between 1[any two persons] may be solemnized under this Act, if at the time of the marriage the following conditions are fulfilled, namely :

2(a) neither party has a spouse living;

(b) neither party -

(i) is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or

(ii) though capable of giving a valid consent, has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or

(iii) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;

(c) the male has completed the age of twenty-one years and the female the age of eighteen years;

(d) the parties are not within the degree of prohibited relationship;

Provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them, such marriage may be solemnized, not withstanding that they are within the degree of prohibited relationship; and

(e) where the marriage is solemnized in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, both parties are citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends.

1. Section 1 & 4 - Marriage between foreign national and Indian - Whether the marriage can be solemnized of an Indian Citizen with a foreign national in India under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Held. A foreigner can get married in India with a girl of Indian Nationality under the provision of the Special Marriage Act 1954. Any two persons in India, where one of them or both of them are foreigners or both of them are Indians can enter into a form of marriage under the Act. [Vatsala & others vs. Sub-Registrar and Marriage Officer and others : Kar L.J. 1981 (1) 294.]

2. Section 4(a) states that marriage between any two persons may be solemnized under this Act if neither party has a spouse living. All that it says is that if either party has a spouse living at the time of marriage, the marriage can not be solemnized under the Act. (Paramenshwari Bai V. Muthojirao Scindia AIR 1981 Kant 40).

Explanation - In this section, Customs, in relation to a person belonging to any tribe, community, group or family, means any rule which the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf as applicable to members of that tribe, community, group or family.

Provided that no such notification shall be issued in relation to the members of any tribe, community, group of family, unless the State Government is satisfied -

(i) That such rule has been continuously and uniformly observed for a long time among those members;

(ii) that such rule is certain and not unreasonable or opposed to public policy; and

(iii) that such rule, if applicable only to a family, has not been discontinued by the family.

5. Notice of intended marriage - When a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties to the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the form specific in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.

6. Marriage Notice Book and Publication - (1) The Marriage Officer shall keep all notices given under section 5 with the records of his office and shall also forth with enter a true copy of every such notice in a book prescribed for that purpose, to be called the Marriage Notice Book, and such book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without fee, by any person desirous of inspecting the same.

(2) The Marriage Officer shall cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office.

1(3) Where either of the parties to an intended marriage is not permanently residing within the local limits of the district of the Marriage Officer to whom the notice has been given under section 5, the Marriage Officer shall also cause a copy of such notice to be transmitted to the Marriage Officer of the district within whose limits such party is permanently residing, and the Marriage Officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.

1. Channel of communication concerning notice of marriage between the marriage officer in India and abroad - procedure - In order to avoid delay in the display of such notices by missions abroad, marriage officer in India should forward such notices direct to the marriage officer in our missions abroad. [Government of India Ministry of external affairs Lr. No. T 435 (14) 64 dated 24-8-64, read with Govt. letter HD 12 CIM 66 dated 27-10-1964].

7. Objection to Marriage -(1) Any person may, before the expiration of thirty days from the date on which any such notice has been published under subsection (2) of section 6, object to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in section 4.

(2) After the expiration of thirty days from the date on which notice of an intended marriage has been published under sub-section (2) of section 6, the marriage may be solemnized, unless it has been previously objected to under subsection (1).

(3) The nature of the objection shall be recorded in writing by the marriage officer in the Marriage Notice Book, be read over and explained, if necessary to the person making the objection and shall be signed by him or on his behalf.

8. Procedure on receipt of objection - (1) If an objection is made under section 7 to an intended marriage, the Marriage Officer shall not solemnize the marriage until he has inquired into the matter of the objection and is satisfied that it ought to prevent the solemnization of the marriage or the objection is withdrawn by the person making it; but the Marriage Officer shall not take more than thirty days from the date of objection for the purpose of inquiring into the matter of the objection and arriving at a decision.

(2) If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection and refuses to solemnize the marriage, either party to the intended marriage may, within a period of thirty days from the date of such refusal, prefer an appeal to the district court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the Marriage Officer has his office, and the decision of the district court on such appeal shall be final, and the Marriage Officer shall act in conformity with the decision of the court.

9. Powers of Marriage Officers in respect of inquiries - (1) For the purpose of any inquiry under section 8, the Marriage Officer shall have all the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, (5 of 1908) when trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely :-

(a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them

on oath;

(b) Discovery and inspection;

(c) Compelling the production of documents;

(d) Reception of evidence on affidavits ; and

(e) Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses;

and any proceeding before the Marriage Officer shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of section 193 of the Indian Penal Code. (45 of 1860)

Explanation - For the purpose of enforcing the attendance of any person to give evidence, the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Marriage Officer shall be the local limits of his district.

(2) If it appears to the Marriage Officer that the objection made to an intended marriage is nor reasonable and has not been made in good faith he may impose on the person objecting costs by way of compensation not exceeding one thousand rupees and award the whole or any part thereof to the parties to the intended marriage, and any order for costs so made may be executed in the same manner as a decree passed by the district court within the local limits whose jurisdiction the Marriage Officer has his office.

10. Procedure on receipt of objection by Marriage Officer abroad :- Where an objection is made under section 7 to a Marriage Officer in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in respect of an intended marriage in the State, and the Marriage Officer, after making such inquiry into the matter as he thinks fit, entertains a doubt in respect thereof, he shall not solemnize the marriage but shall transmit the record with such statement respecting the matter as he thinks fit to the Central Government, and the Central Government, after making such inquiry into the matter and after obtaining such advice as it thinks fit, shall give its decision thereon in writing to the Marriage Officer who shall act in conformity with the decision of the Central Government.

11. Declaration by parties and witnesses - Before the marriage is solemnized the parties and three witnesses shall, in the presence of the Marriage Officer, sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule to this Act, and the declaration shall be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.

12. Place and form of solemnization - (1) The marriage may be solemnized at the office of the Marriage Officer, or at such other place within a reasonable distance therefrom as the parties may desire, and upon such conditions and the payment of such additional fees as may be prescribed.

(2) The marriage may be solemnized in any form which the parties may choose to adopt :

Provided that it shall not be complete and binding on the parties, unless each party says to the other in the presence of Marriage Officer and the three witnesses and in any language understood by the parties, - I, (A), take thee (B), to be my lawful

13. Certificate of marriage - (1) When the marriage has been solemnized, the Marriage Officer shall enter a certificate thereof in the form specified in the Fourth Schedule in a book to be kept by him for that purpose and to be called the Marriage Certificate Book and such certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and the three witnesses.

(2) On a certificate being entered in the Marriage Certificate Book by the Marriage Officer, the certificate shall be deemed to be conclusive evidence of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized and that all formalities respecting the signature of witnesses have been complied with.

14. New Notice when marriage not solemnized within three months - Whenever a marriage is not solemnized within three calendar months from the date on which notice thereof has been given to the Marriage Officer as required by section 5, or where an appeal has been field under sub-section (2) of section 8, within three months from the date of the decision of the district court on such appeal or, where the record of a case has been transmitted to the Central Government under section 10, within three months from the date of decision of the Central Government, the notice and all other proceedings arising there from shall be deemed to have lapsed, and no Marriage Officer shall solemnize the marriage until a new notice has been given in the manner laid down in this Act.

CHAPTER III

Registration of Marriages Celebrated in Other Forms

15. Registration of marriages celebrated in other forms -Any marriage celebrated, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, other than a marriage solemnized under the Special Marriage Act, 1872, (III of 1872) or under this Act, may be registered under this Chapter by a Marriage Officer in the territories to which this Act extends if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely :-

(a) a ceremony of marriage has been performed between the parties and they have been living together as husband and wife ever since;

(b) neither party has at the time of registration more than one spouse living;

(c) neither party is an idiot or a lunatic at the time of registration.

(d) the parties have completed the age of twenty-one years at the time of registration;

(e) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship:

Provided that in the case of a marriage celebrated before the commencement of this Act, this condition shall be subject to any law, custom or usage having the force of law governing each of them which permits of a marriage between the two; and

(f) The parties have been residing with the district of the Marriage Officer for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which the application is made to him for registration of the marriage.

16. Procedure for registration -Upon receipt of an application signed by both the parties to the marriage for the registration of their marriage under this Chapter, theMarriage Officer shall give public notice thereof in such manner as may be prescribed and after allowing a period of thirty days for objections and after hearing any objection received with that period, shall, if satisfied that all the conditions mentioned in section 15 are fulfilled, enter a certificate of the marriage in the Marriage Certificate Book in the form specified in the Fifth Schedule, and such certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and by three witnesses.

17. Appeals from orders under section 16 -Any person aggrieved by any order of a Marriage Officer refusing to register a marriage under this Chapter may, within thirty days from the date of the order, appeal against that order to the district court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the Marriage Officer has his office, and the decision of the district court on such appeal shall be final, and the Marriage Officer to whom the application was made shall act in conformity with such decision.

18. Effect of registration of marriage under this Chapter :Subject to the provisions contained in sub-section (2) of section 24, where a certificate of marriage has been finally entered in the Marriage Certificate Book under this Chapter, the marriage shall, as from the date of such entry, be deemed to be a marriage solemnized under this Act, and all children born after the date of the ceremony of marriage (whose names shall also be entered in the Marriage Certificate Book) shall in all respect be deemed to be and always to have been the legitimate children of their parents :

Provided that nothing contained in this section shall be construed as conferring upon any such children any rights in or to the property of any person other than their parents in any case where, but for the passing of this Act, such children would have been incapable of possessing or acquiring any such rights by reason of their not being the legitimate children of their parents.

CHAPTER IV

CONSEQUENCES OF MARRIAGE UNDER THIS ACT

19. Effect of marriage on member of undivided family :The marriage solemnized under this Act of any member of an undivided family who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion shall be deemed to effect his severance from such family.

20. Rights and disabilities not affected by Act - Subject to the provisions of section 19, any person whose marriage is solemnized under this Act shall have the same rights and shall be subject to the same disabilities in regard to the right of succession to any property as a person to whom the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850 (21 of 1850) applies.

21. Succession to property of parties married under Act -Notwithstanding any restrictions contained in the Indian Succession Act, 1925 (39 of 1925) with respect to its application to members of certain communities, succession to the property of any person whose marriage is solemnized under this Act and to the property of the issue of such marriage shall be regulated by the provisions of the said Act and for the purposes of this section that Act shall have effect as if Chapter III of Part V (Special Rules for Pursi Intestate) had been omitted therefrom.

21A. Special provision in certain cases - Where the marriage is solemnized under this Act of any person who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion with a person who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion, section 19 and section21 shall not apply and so much of section 20 as creates a disability shall also not apply.

CHAPTER V

MISCELLANEOUS

43. Penalty on Married person marrying again under this Act- Save as otherwise provided in Chapter III, every person who, being at the time married, procures, a marriage of himself or herself to be solemnized under this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 494 or section 495 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), as the case may be, and the marriage so solemnized shall be void.

44. Punishment of bigamy - Every person whose marriages is solemnized under this Act and who, during the lifetime of his or her wife or husband, contracts any other marriage shall be subject to the penalties provided in section 494 and section 495 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), for the offence of marrying again during the lifetime of a husband or wife, and the marriage so contracted shall be void.

45. Penalty for signing false declaration or certificate- Every person making, signing or attesting any declaration or certificate required by or under this Act containing a statement which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to the true shall be guilty of the offence described in section 199 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

46. Penalty for wrongful Any marriage officer who knowingly and wilfully solemnizes a marriage under this Act-

(1) without publishing a notice regarding such marriage as required by section 5, or

(2) within thirty days of the publication of the notice of such marriage, or

(3) in contravention of any other provision contained in this Act.

Shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

47. Marriage Certificate Book to be open to inspection - (1) The Marriage Certificate Book kept under this Act shall, at all reasonable times, be open for inspection and shall be admissible as evidence of the statements therein contained.

(2) Certified extracts from the Marriage Certificate Book shall, on application be given by the Marriage Officer to the applicant on payment by him of the 1prescribed fee.

48. Transmission of copies of entries in marriage records :-Every Marriage Officer in a State shall send to Registrar - General of Births, Deaths and Marriages of that State at such intervals and in such form as may be prescribed, a true copy of all entries made by him in the Marriage Certificate Book since the last of such intervals, and , in the case of Marriage Officers outside the territories to which the Act extends, the true copy shall be sent to such authority as the Central Government may specify in this behalf.

49. Correction of errors -(1) Any Marriage officer who discovers any error in the form or substance of any entry in the Marriage Certificate Book may, within one month next after the discovery of such error, in the presence of the persons married or in case of their death or alience in the presence of two other credible witnesses, correct the error by entry in the margin without any alteration f the original entry and shall sign the marginal entry and add there to the date - alternated of such correction and the Marriage Officer shall make the like marginal entry in the Certificate thereof.

(2) Every correction made under this section shall be attested by the witnesses in whose presence it was made.

(3) Where a copy of any entry has already been sent under section 48 to the Registrar - General or other authority, the Marriage Officer shall make and send in like manner a separate certificate of the original erroneous entry and of the marginal corrections therein made.

1. Stamp duty exempted to issue copy of extract certified to be true copy. Please see statutory exemption granted in Article 21 of the schedule to the Karnataka Stamp Act, 1957.

THE FIRST SCHEDULE

[See section 2(b) Degrees of Prohibited relationship]

PART - 1

1. Mother

2. Fathers Widow (Step-Mother)

3. Mothers mother

4. Mothers Fathers widow (Step grand-mother)

5. Mothers mothers mother

6. Mothers mothers fathers widow (Step great grand-mother)

7. Mothers fathers mother

8. Mothers fathers fathers widow (step great grand - mother)

9. Fathers mother

10. Fathers Fathers widow (Step grand-mother)

11. Fathers mothers mother

12. Fathers mothers fathers widow (step great grand-mother)

13. Fathers fathers mother

14. Fathers fathers fathers widow (step great grand-mother)

15. Daughter

16. Sons widow

17. Daughters daughters.

18. Daughters Sons widow

19. Sons daughter

20. Sons Sons widow

21. Daughters daughters daughter

22. Daughters daughters sons widow

23. Daughters sons daughter

24. Daughters sons sons widow

25. Sons daughters daughter

26. Sons daughters sons widow

27. Sons Sons daughter

28. Sons sons sons widow

29. Sister

30. Sisters daughter

31. Brothers daughter

32. Mothers sister

33. Fathers sister

34. Fathers brothers daughter

35. Fathers sisters daughter

36. Mothers sisters daughter

37. Mothers brothers daughter

Explanation :- For the purposes of this Part, the expression Widow includes a divorced wife.

PART - II

1. Father

2. Mothers husband (step-father)

3. Fathers father

4. Fathers mothers husband (step grand-father)

5. Fathers fathers father

6. Fathers fathers mothers husband (step great grand-father)

7. Fathers Mothers father

8. Fathers mothers mothers husband (step great grand-father)

9. Mothers father

10. Mothers mothers husband (step grand-father)

11. Mothers fathers father

12. Mothers fathers mothers husband (step great grand-father)

13. Mothers mothers father

14. Mothers mothers mothers husband (step great grand-father)

15. Son

16. Daughters husband

17. Sons son

18. Sons daughters husband

19. Daughters son

20. Daughters daughters husband

21. Sons sons son

22. Sons sons daughters husband

23. Sons daughters son

24. Sons daughters daughters husband

25. Daughters sons son

26. Daughters sons daughters husband

27. Daughters daughters son

28. Daughters daughters daughters husband

29. Brother

30. Brothers son

31. Sisters son

32. Mothers brother

33. Fathers brother

34. Fathers brothers son

35. Fathers sisters son

36. Mothers sisters son

37. Mothers brothers son.

Explanation :- For the purposes of this Part, the expression husband includes a divorced husband.

THE SECOND SCHEDULE

(See Section 5)

NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE

To

Marriage Officer for the .................................................. District.

We are hereby give you notice that a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, is intended to be solemnized between us within three calendar months from the date hereof.

Name

Condition

Occupation

Age

Dwelling Place

Permanent Dwelling Place if dwelling Place not permanent

Length of residence

A.B. 



CD.

Unmarried
Widower
Divorcee

Unmarried
Widow
Divorcee

Witness our hands this .................................................. day of ........................20......

(Signature) A.B.

(Signature) C.D.

THE THIRD SCHEDULE

(See Section 11)

DECLARATION TO BE MADE BY THE BRIDEGROOM

I, A.B., hereby declare as follow :-

1. I am at the present time unmarried (or a widower or a divorcee, as the case may be).

2. I have completed.............. years of age.

3. I am not related to C.D. (the bride) within the degrees of prohibited relationship.

4. I am aware that, if any statement in this declaration is false, and if in making such statement I either know or believe it to be false or do not believe it to be true, I am liable to imprisonment and also to fine.

(Signature) A.B.(the Bridegroom)

DECLARATION TO BE MADE BY THE BRIDE

I, C.D., hereby declare as follows :-

1. I am at the present time unmarried (or a widow or a divorcee, as the case may be)

2. I have completed..........years of age.

3. I am not related to A.B. (the bridegroom) within the degrees of prohibited relationship

4. I am aware that, if any statement is this declaration is false, and if in making such statement I either know or believe it to be false or do not believe it to be true, I am liable to imprisonment and also to fine.

(Signature) C.D. (the Bride).

Signed in our presence by the above-named A.B. and C.D. so far as we are aware there is no lawful>

(Signature) G.H.

(Signature) I.J. Three witnesses.

(Signature) K.L.

Countersigned E.F.,

Marriage Officer.

Dated the ............................................... day of ................................... 20.........

THE FOURTH SCHEDULE

(See section 13)

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE

I, E.F., hereby certify that on the ........................... day of .................... 20............, A.B. and C.D. * appeared before me and that each of them, in my presence and in the presence of three witnesses who have signed hereunder, made the declarations required by section 11 and that a marriage under this Act was solemnized between them in my presence.

(Signature) E.F.,

Marriage Officer for

(Signature) A.B.,

Bridegroom

(Signature) C.D.,

Bride

(Signature) G.H.

(Signature) I.J. Three witnesses

(Signature) K.L.

Dated the ................................................... day of ............................... 20.......................

* Herein give particulars of the parties.

THE FIFTH SCHEDULE

(See Section16)

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE CELEBRATED IN OTHER FORMS

I, E.F., hereby certify that A.B. and C.D.* appeared before me this...............................day of ......................... 20.............. and the each of them, in my presence of three witnesses who have signed hereunder have declared that a ceremony of marriage has been performed between them and that they have been living together as husband and wife since the time of their marriage, and that in accordance with their desire to have their marriage registered under this Act, the said marriage has, this............. day of .......................................... 20.......................... been registered under this Act, having effect as from.

(Signature) E.F.,

Marriage Officer for

(Sd.) A.B.,

Husband

(Sd.) C.D.

Wife

(Sd.) G.H.

(Sd.) I.J. Three witnesses

(Sd.) K.L.

Dated the.................................................. day of ..................... 20................

* Herein give particulars of the parties.​