Court marriages in India are extremely common; these marriages are covered within the ambit of the Special Marriages Act, 1954. It is not a mandatory provision that the couples opting for a court marriage should necessarily belong to different religions, people belonging to the same religion can also enter into a court marriage. Court Marriages are irrespective of the caste, creed, religion or race. The most notable part of getting a court marriage is the fact that there is no requirement of an elaborate ceremony, the parties who are intending to marry should consent amongst each other before entering into a married bond, fulfill the conditions as laid down by the Act, complete the required legal obligations and most importantly, the marriage is solemnized in the presence of two witnesses.
Requirements of a valid Court Marriage
There are certain provisions as mentioned in the aforementioned Act regarding fulfilling of certain conditions without which a Court Marriage will be considered invalid; the following can be understood as the requirements of a valid Court Marriage:
1. Monogamous Relationship – The Hindu marriage laws are pre-dominantly monogamous in nature, which means that the husband can’t have more than one wife, and vice versa, it is also recognized as a crime under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, hence the couple entering into a court marriage should not be in an existing marriage union.
2. Willful Consent – The couple that is entering into the married union, should have free and equivocal consent, both the parties should freely consent before entering into a marriage union, any coercion to enter into the marriage would make the marriage void.
3. Legal Age – The law has prescribed certain thresholds pertaining to the age of the individuals who are entering into a marriage union, hence the prescribed age for women is 18 years and similarly, the prescribed age for men is 21.
4. Unrelated to each other under Schedule 1 – The Hindu law prescribes certain degrees of prohibited relationships and traces the ‘sapinda’ accordingly, hence the couple which is intending to marry should not be related to each other within the prescribed degrees of prohibited relationships, or else the marriage would be considered void in nature.
5. Fit to procreate – Procreation stands for reproduction, hence the couple entering into the marriage should be necessarily fertile in order to reproduce.
Procedure of Court Marriage Registration
In order to get a marriage solemnized and registered legally, and to enter a court marriage, the couple intending to marry has to follow certain guidelines prescribed by the law, though, the registration procedure of a Court Marriage is a lengthy one, it even requires a margin of certain days before getting a registration done, it cannot be done on the spot, hence the procedure of a Court Marriage Registration can be elucidated as the following
STEP 1: Sending a Notice to the Registrar – A notice has to be duly drafted by the intending couple and sent to the marriage registrar, which mentions that the intending marriage is to be solemnized in the prescribed number of days (mostly 3 months), there is another important mandate with respect to the notice, the couple intending to get married should have stayed at the place of getting married in the time period of 30 days before solemnization of the marriage.
STEP 2: Publication of the Notice by the Registrar – The concerned marriage registrar of the district publishes about the couple which is intending to get married, this is done in order to notify the people regarding the intended marriage, and to invite any objections if being raised.
STEP 3: Raising Objection to the Notice – Once the notice has been published by the marriage registrar, it is open for rising and entertaining any objections raised against the intending marriage, the objections against the marrying party can be raised by anyone; however these are to be within the ambit of the pre-requisites of a valid court marriage. The concerned marriage registrar has to send an inquiry regarding the objections received within the period of 30 days of communication of the objections by the other party.
STEP 4: Signing of the Declaration by the Bride-Groom – There is a specific declaration of the marriage that has to be furnished to the marriage registrar with regard to the solemnization of the marriage; this has to be signed in the presence of the registrar by the couple and their respective witnesses. The declarations state that the couple intending to marry fulfill all the conditions required for a valid marriage and if there is any false claim made by the person in the declaration that will attract the necessary legal consequences.
STEP 5: Marriage Certificate to the Parties – the marriage is hence solemnized and registered with the concerned authorities; the marriage certificate is to be furnished by the marriage registrar stating that the marriage was solemnized in his presence along with the concerned date and time.
Documents required for Court Marriage Registration
There are certain documents that are necessarily required in order to get a court marriage registered; hence these are to be furnished to the court of law for a successful solemnization and registration of the marriage, which are:
1. Identity & Age Proof – The identity proof of the bride and groom are required by the court, this can be their Aadhaar card, Election ID card, Passport etc., The document so furnished should prove that the couple intending to getting married are of the legal marriage age.
2. Correspondence Proof – The bride and groom have to provide for proof regarding the address of correspondence of the couple; this can be furnished by submitting the gas bill, telephone bill or electricity bill.
3. Photographs of the Bride & Groom – There is a requirement for submitting seven photographs each of the bride and the groom to the marriage registrar.
4. Identity proof of the witnesses – The witnesses of the bride and groom have to submit photographs, along with their PAN card details and proof of their residential address, respectively.
5. Attested Affidavit with Form – The couple intending to marry ha to furnish a duly notarized affidavit with the prescribed form, to the marriage registrar. This Affidavit contains a mandatory register entry number.
6. Other documents – There are certain documents that may be required by the court depending on the circumstance, hence a death certificate might have to be furnished if the bride or groom’s previous partner has died, or the Divorce Decree might be required if one of the parties is a divorcee or nationality proof is required if one of the parties is not a citizen of India, and so on.
Importance of Court Marriage Registration
When a couple enters into a court marriage under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the marriage is not only solemnized but registered as well. The importance of registering a marriage stems from the fact that a registered marriage is also a recognized marriage in the eyes of law. Hence, a registration certificate of marriage is required to be furnished at many places as a document providing the relationship between the couple and is also required at many places for registering other important documents like the passport, election ID card etc. Hence, there has been an utmost importance that has been associated with marriage registration.