India has long been a nation of many different cultures and secularism. Likewise, marriage has long maintained a hallowed place in Indian society, with people holding the union of two people as a couple in the highest regard. Marriage nowadays is a union of two families rather than two people because of the various standards and ethics that the institution of marriage has amassed throughout history. There is typically a high amount of social participation when choosing marriage partners. There has been a steady increase in the proportion of people making connections outside of their own groups as a result of modernization, westernization, liberal education, and intellectual independence. Contrarily, inter-religious unions are frowned upon, and people who choose to marry someone who does not share their religious convictions and traditions risk becoming social misfits or being socially shunned for doing so. The couple’s problems have become so bad because of various vigilante groups that they now need to fight for a very long time to protect their lives and safety.
Religious laws in India have not been able to accommodate and regulate marriages between interfaith or intercaste couples who do not want to associate and solemnize their marriage according to any specific religious laws since the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, or the registration of marriages under the Muslim personal laws, since the colonial era. The Special Marriage Act passed in 1954, and 1872, respectively was developed by the British Government in India in response to this impediment which prevented two consenting, eligible adults from getting married. This law was intended to safeguard society’s revered secularism. The present Special Marriage Act, of 1954, was so created and put into action in accordance with colonial legislative guidelines in newly independent India. This was crucial to maintaining the nation’s tight-knit secular fabric after it was severely damaged by the repercussions of the 1947 partition.
The special marriage Act passed in 1954, entered the legal system as one of the most major secular measures of independent India. The Act was designed as a piece of legislation that governs marriages that cannot be solemnized because of religious customs. A unique sort of marriage by registration is established by this piece of legislation. The unique aspect of marriage is that no one has to change their religion or abandon it. A universally accepted form of proof of marriage is the Certificate of Registration issued under the Act.
No matter if they reside in India or elsewhere, all Indian Citizens are subject to the Act. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is not covered by the provisions of this Act, however, residents of that state who have their primary residence in another state are still eligible for these benefits.
The Act’s goal is to create uniform legal protections for people who want to wed outside of their caste or religion. The Act advances the interests of all Indians by creating a mechanism for interfaith unions.
The Act specifies requirements for a legitimate marriage, the dissolution of an interfaith union, marriage registration requirements, and other rules. As a result, the enactment of the aforementioned legislation was passed in an effort to uphold people’s fundamental rights and give them the freedom to choose their spouses. The Legislation also aims to recognize the rights of the children born from such marriages and lessen the possibility of social problems like love jihad and honor killing.
The following factors, which were incorporated into the Act, Fundamentally altered how society views interfaith and intercaste marriages:
This Act applies to all Indian citizens, regardless of religion or caste, in contrast to the previous marriage regulation. This means that anyone who wants to marry someone else can do so in accordance with the aforementioned laws.
No rites or ceremonies are performed since the Act views marriage as a legal transaction. The marriage is consummated legally- through a judicial marriage- in line with the law.
Learn about the differences between the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act
Hindu Marriage Act
Special Marriage Act
This applies only to the Hindus.
Applicable to all the citizens of India irrespective of caste, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.
Provides an opportunity for registration to an already solemnized marriage
Offers solemnization for the marriage as well as for registration by a marriage officer.
Registration of marriage is optional or desirable.
Mandatory to get the registration done within a time frame.
All marriages must be solemnized through traditions and rituals, especially with the saptapadi.
Traditional rituals are essentially not required for the solemnization of marriage, but it is desirable.
Under the Special Marriage Act, of 1954, a marriage cannot be solemnized until certain conditions are met. Chapter II, section 4 provides a description of these requirements. The requirements for this specific type of marriage are very similar to section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and are not dissimilar from those for regular customary marriages.
Before submitting an application for the Special Marriage Act, all of the following requirements must be met;
if an Indian citizen intends to marry someone who is a foreign national, then their marriage can be solemnized under Special Marriage Act, in India before a Marriage Registrar in India or a Marriage Officer in a foreign country.
The special marriage act also provides laws to file a divorce petition which a person can only file only when his/her marriage has been solemnized under the Act. The Act provides for several Instances whereby the parties may desire to terminate the marital bond, such grounds are divided into three parts.
Grounds for divorce
Before the district court, both couples in a marriage may jointly file a divorce on the basis that:
both parties must file a motion with the court asking for a divorce ruling no later than six months after the petition is presented, but no later than eighteen months. the following considerations must be made by the court before issuing a divorce decree;
The Court will issue a decree for divorce once it is pleased with the aforementioned factors. it is crucial to remember that the petition can only be submitted after the marriage has been solemnized for a year, or from the date written on the wedding certificate in the marriage certificate book.
the grounds of adultery will only require one instance of consenting extramarital sex. it should be noted that attempting to do so does not automatically entail adultery. Although the Act lists adultery as a reason for divorce, it is supported by conventional religious principles because doing so frequently undermines the sanctity and stability of marriage.
The term, “Complete renunciation of martial obligations” is the definition of desertion. A spouse’s intentional withdrawal from the marriage for a continuous period of two years without a good reason can be the basis for a divorce petition. the abandoned spouse, however, must not have approved of such a departure. intention to desert as well as actual physical or mental abandonment is required to establish the grounds for desertion.
The other spouse may submit a divorce petition for this reason if the other spouse is convicted of an offense under the Indian Criminal Code for a period of seven years or longer. However, if the petition is submitted three years or more into a seven-year or longer sentence, the divorce order will not be issued.
The ‘cruelty’ term is constructed according to the definition laid down in Russell v. Russell (1897 AC 395). Cruelty, in accordance with this definition, is any act, conduct, or behavior that endangers another person’s life, harms their health, or reputation, or causes them mental suffering. Here, behavior and conduct are more important than the spouse’s intentions since such behavior and conduct must be so severe that no reasonable person should be able to endure it.
If one of the couples is having any kind of mental disorder to such an extent that it is not reasonable possibly to live with him, then the other one can file a petition for divorce. nonetheless, if a person suffered a mental illness without telling their spouse before the marriage was solemnized, the marriage would be considered voidable.
Sexually transmitted illnesses are the most prevalent name for these conditions. there are adequate grounds for filing a divorce petition if one spouse has a venereal illness that is contagious and severe. Such a party, however, must not have gotten the illness from his or her spouse. the Act makes no mention of the disease’s duration to subsist nor does it mention curability or lack of it.
The wife may seek divorce on any of the following grounds;