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How to do court marriage in India

The procedures for a court marriage and the documents that are necessary for the court marriage.

What is a court marriage?

Court marriages, unlike ordinary Indian weddings, are the marriages solemnised under/in accordance with the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (hereinafter ‘the act’). The marriage can take place or be solemnised in the court itself in the presence of a Marriage Officer and three witnesses. These marriages do not have to include the elaborate customary or ritualistic steps of the personal laws of the parties to the marriage. Merely marrying in the presence of marriage officer in accordance with the act is sufficient for a valid marriage.

Who can marry through court marriage?

Any two persons (of different genders) belonging to the same religion or different religions can marry through a court marriage.

What are the conditions relating to solemnization of court marriages?

Chapter II, Section 4 of the act provides the following conditions for solemnisation of a court marriage:

  • No pre-existing marriage – The parties must not have spouses living.
  • Valid Consent – The parties must not be incapable of giving valid consent by reason of unsoundness of mind.
  • Age-The male has completed the age of 21 years and the female the age of 18 years.
  • Prohibited degrees of relationships -The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationships. Provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them such marriage may be solemnised irrespective of the relation falling within the degrees of prohibited relationships.

Note: Degrees of prohibited relationships are mentioned in Part I and II of the first schedule.

The following are the procedures for a court marriage

The procedure for a court marriage, covered under Chapter II titled “solemnization of special marriages”, can be broken down into the following broad steps:

Step 1 – Notice of the intended marriage

Step 2 – Publication

Step 3 – Objection to Marriage

Step 4 – Declaration by parties and witnesses

Step 5 – Place and form of solemnization

Step 6 – Certificate of Marriage

The steps are elaborated below along with the documents required to be furnished during each of the steps. For the sake of convenience, the documents prescribed are in reference to Delhi.

Step 1 – Notice of the intended marriage

In the first step of the procedure for a court marriage, a notice has to be given to the marriage officer under section 5 of the act. It mandates that the parties to the marriage shall give notice of the intended marriage in writing and in the form prescribed in Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer. The Marriage Officer must have jurisdiction in the district where at least one of the parties must have resided for a minimum of 30 days prior to the giving of the notice.

Documents required

  1. Application form (notice in the form specified) duly filled and signed by the bride and the groom.
  2. Receipt of fees paid with respect to the application form in the District Court.
  3. Documentary evidence of the date of birth of both the parties (Matriculation Certificate/Passport/Birth Certificate).
  4. Documentary evidence regarding stay in Delhi of one of the parties for more than 30 days (ration card or report from the concerned Station House Officer).
  5. Separate affidavits from bride and groom giving:
  • Date of birth
  • Present marital status: unmarried/widower/ divorcee.
  • Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the degree of prohibited relationship defined in the Special Marriage Act.
  1. Passport size photographs of both parties (2 copies each) duly attested by a Gazetted Officer.
  2. Copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.

The format of the notice is as follows:

NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE

To

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

We 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.

NameConditionOccupationAgeDwellingplacePermanent placedwelling if present

dwelling place not

permanent

Length ofresidence
A.B.(the Groom)Unmarried
Widower
Divorcee
C.D.(the Bride)Unmarried
Widow
Divorcee

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

(Sd.) A.B.,

(the Bridegroom)

(Sd.) C.D.,

(the Bride)

Step 2 – Publication

The Marriage Officer shall publish the notice by affixing it to some conspicuous place in his office. The Marriage Officer shall keep all the true copies of the notices in the Marriage Notice Book.

If the parties are not permanently residing in the area within the jurisdiction of the Marriage Officer, then the Officer shall send a copy of the notice to the Marriage Officer of the place where the parties permanently reside so that the copy of the notice can be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.

Step 3 – Objection to marriage

Any person, under section 7, can raise an objection against the marriage before the Marriage Officer on the grounds that the marriage would violate any conditions specified in section 4 of the act. The objection must be raised within 30 days of the publication of the notice by the Marriage Officer. The nature of the objection is to be recorded by the Marriage Officer in the Marriage Notice Book.

The Marriage Officer, under section 8, on receiving an objection would enquire into it within 30 days and solemnise the marriage if the objection doesn’t impede the solemnisation of the marriage. If the objection stands then the marriage officer shall not solemnise the marriage; this can be appealed before the District Court by the parties.

Step 4 – Declaration by the parties and witnesses

Before the solemnisation of the marriage, the parties to the marriage and three witnesses are to sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule, in the presence of the Marriage Officer and which is to be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.

Documents Required

  1. One passport size photograph of each of the three witnesses.
  2. Any document for identification of the witnesses by the Marriage Officer (Driving License, PAN Card etc.)

The format of the declaration form is as follows:

DECLARATION TO BE MADE BY THE BRIDEGROOM

I, A.B., hereby declare as follows:―

  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.

(Sd.) 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 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.

(Sd.) 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 impediment to the marriage.

(Sd.) G.H.

(Sd.) I.J.

(Sd.) K.L.

(three Witnesses)

Countersigned E.F.,

Marriage Officer

Dated the                                            __day of                                                             20__

Step 5 – Place and form of Solemnization

The court marriage, under section 12 can be solemnised at the office of the Marriage Officer, or at such other place within a reasonable distance.

The marriage shall be binding only when each party in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses says to the other party in any language understood by the parties “I, (A), take thee (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)”. The parties may choose to solemnise their marriage in any form.

Step 6 – Certificate of Marriage

The marriage officer enters a certificate in the form specified in Schedule IV of the act in the marriage certificate book. If signed by both parties and three witnesses, such a certificate is conclusive evidence of the court marriage.

The certificate of marriage is as follows:

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.

(Sd.) E.F.,

Marriage Officer for

(Sd.) A.B.,

Bridegroom

(Sd.) C.D.,

Bride.

(Sd.) G.H.

(Sd.) I.J.

(Sd.) K.L.

Three Witnesses

Dated the                                          __ day of                                                             20__

What are the complexities one faces in a court marriage?

The process of a court marriage is relatively simpler than the ordinary marriages which include customary rituals, elaborate religious steps and months of planning. The few complexities that one faces in a court marriage are as follows:

  • The dates are dependent on the Marriage Officer as to what date he allots the same for appearance and solemnisation of the court marriage. In the case of an emergency, the marriage cannot be done earlier than the allotted date (30 days after the notice is published only when no objection is raised by anyone).
  • A well-founded objection can stall the marriage for a long period and the decision depends on the determination of the Marriage Officer. If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection the parties have to appeal to the District Court for the same.
  • The whole process has to be done manually in most places by going to the office of the marriage officer, as working online portals are not present everywhere.
  • One has to be residing in a place for a minimum of 30 days for being eligible to give notice to the marriage officer of that area or district. So generally one can only apply for marriage where he/she resides and not some destination that he/she had planned to marry in.
  • 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 marriage is not conducted within 3 months from the date of giving the notice then the notice lapses and a fresh notice is to be given to the Marriage Officer.
  • The legal complexities that one faces while marrying through a court marriage is that, in case one of the parties are either Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina and belong to a Hindu undivided family then such marriage would result in his/her severance from such family. The succession would be governed by the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850.

How much the process of court marriage costs overall?

The process of court marriage cost also varies from state to state and one has to individually look into the fees of the respective place where the marriage is to be solemnised. E.g. The total cost in SDM Court Saket in Delhi will be around ₹ 1000/-.

How long the entire process of court marriage takes to be completed?

The entire process, starting from giving notice, takes maximum up to 60 days. Provided that no objection comes up within 30 days from the date of publication of the notice.

If any objection comes up then the maximum inquiry period allotted for the Marriage Officer is 30 days. After the Marriage Officer upholds the objection the appeal can be raised in the District Court within 30 days from the date of the decision by the Marriage Officer.

Is the marriage process uniform for every religion?

Yes, the process of court marriage is same and uniform for every religion. The act is a secular act hence all religions are given similar treatment by the Act.

Advantages of court marriage

The court marriage has the following advantages:

  • It is less expensive and a simpler process.
  • The parties to the marriage get the option of solemnising the marriage in any way they want. E.g. two Hindus can solemnise their marriage through a Christian Style wedding if they choose to.
  • The married couple doesn’t have to reapply to the marriage officer for registration of the marriage. It is part of the process of court marriage.
  • The marriage certificate received at the conclusion of the court marriage is conclusive proof of the marriage between the parties and there is no necessity to prove it otherwise by evidence.
  • https://blog.ipleaders.in/how-to-do-court-marriage-india/

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  1. The ‘ court marriage ‘ procedure is an important form to lead a secure marriage life. Such social marriages are safe because of declaration of explicit consent by both the parties in the contact

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