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All you need to know about Special Marriage Act, 1954

Marriage is one of the most important part of our lives, but in our country even till this day we have less participation in making decisions of our marriage than our family. Elders decide every aspect of the person we are going to spend our rest of life with. Even now ‘Love’ is considered an act of rebellion and family elders almost never agree to a love marriage. It might not be the case with you but if you love someone of other religion or believes then even your parents would not agree so easily. Inter-caste marriage is not acceptable in our society because of our tradition and culture, the worst case scenario is honor killings.

This caused a great need to safeguard those who overcame caste and religion to show courage to love and evidently marry. So parliament passed a bill of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Parliament of India made a bill to provide a different form of marriage for people of India and all Indians in foreign countries regardless of their religion or believes of either person. This bill is the Special Marriage Act, 1954. This Act has replaced 1872 Act 3 which was opposed during British rule and thus reformed in 1954.

This Act covers marriages among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. This act applies to every state of India, except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This Act extends not only to the Indian citizens belonging to different castes and religions but also to the Indian nationals living abroad.

What are conditions?

  • The bridegroom should be 21 years of age and the bride at least 18 years of age to be eligible for court marriage.
  • Both the parties should not be a part of any existing valid marriage with the third person. If already married a proof of divorce must be produced.
  • The parties should be mature, responsible and of sound mind.
  • There should not be any prohibited relation between the parties.

Succession Rights

The succession to the property of persons married under this act or any marriage registered under this act and that of their children will be governed under the Indian Succession Act. But, if the parties to the marriage belong to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religions, then the succession to their property will be governed under the Hindu Succession Act.

Constraint on Divorce during 1st yr of marriage

Any person married under the Special Marriage Act or wants to in future must know about this important provision of the Act. The parties cannot file for divorce unless and until one year has expired from the date of their marriage as registered in the marriage books. But, in cases where the court is of the opinion that the petitioner has suffered exceptional hardships or the respondent has shown exceptional depravity on their part, a petition for divorce would be maintained, but if any misrepresentation is found on the part of the petitioner to apply for divorce before the expiry of 1 yr, the court may if any order has been passed, state the order to take effect only after the expiry of 1 yr, as mentioned in Sec. 29 of the Act.

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