Salient Features of Indian Marriage Act 1954

Under Special Marriage Act 1954 all marriages can take place between a male and female regardless of their religion, caste or creed. Some marriages may not be valid in Muslim marriage laws but permissible under Marriage act 1954. Understandably, this enactment is called secular marriage law.
Some people prefer to call marriages under this act as court marriages due to involvement of a judicial officer. You have to get your marriage registered under this act. Both parties to the marriage are required to file a joint application before the marriage officer along with affidavits duly attested and other relevant documents.

Conditions for Marriage

The parties are required to meet the following conditions under marriage act 1854 to conduct a valid marriage:
1- Neither party has a spouse living.
2- None of the parties is of unsound mind.
3- None of the parties is suffering from mental disorder which makes him unfit for marriage or procreation of children.
4- Neither of the party is subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy.
5- Male must not be less than 21 years and female of 18 years of age.
6- The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship. However, this restriction is not applied if such marriages are allowed by local customs in some particular areas or tribes.

Notice of Marriage

The both parties shall file a joint application to the Marriage officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for last 30 days. The marriage act 1954 terms this application as notice to the marriage officer. The officer shall enter the notices in marriage notice book besides publishing the same in his office and in the office of the marriage officer where the parties permanently reside.
Any person, before expiry of 30 days of publishing of such notice, may object to the marriage. If not objected or the objection is found baseless, the marriage shall be solemnized.

Solemnization Procedure

You shall submit individual affidavit to the marriage officer stating your age, permanent and temporary places of residence, marital status, mental status and any mutual relation if exists. You are also required to give proof of your age (with school certificate, passport or identity card) and proof of residence. Your declaration should be duly attested by the notary public and signed by the marriage officer.
The marriage may take in any form with any kinds of marriage customs. However, no marriage shall be valid until the parties to marriage give their consent and acceptance in presence of the marriage officer and three competent witnesses.

Marriage Certificate

The marriage officer issues a marriage certificate which is signed by the parties and three witnesses. Once the certificate is entered in marriage certificate book, the marriage shall be deemed to be a valid marriage under marriage act 1954. The children born after the date of ceremony of marriage shall in all respects be deemed to be legitimate children of their parents.

Void and Voidable Marriages

When you don’t fulfill conditions provided in Marriage Act 1954, your marriage solemnized under this act is null and void and can be decreed so. When husband was impotent at the time of marriage but did not disclose the same, the marriage is null and void. The registration of any such marriage has no legal effect.
The marriage is voidable when a marriage has not been consummated owing to the willful refusal of the wife to consummate the marriage or she was pregnant at the time of marriage by some other person than married. A marriage is voidable when consent of either of the party to marriage was obtained by coercion or fraud.

Divorce under Marriage Act 1954

Either of the party to marriage may file a petition for divorce when the respondent:
1. Makes a voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than the spouse.
2. Deserts the petitioner for a period not less than two years.
3. Undergoes an imprisonment of seven years or more.
4. Been treating the petitioner with cruelty.
5. Is of unsound mind or suffering from continuous mental disorder.
6. Suffering from venereal disease, leprosy etc
7. Is not heard of being alive for seven years or more.
A wife may also present a petition when her husband is guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality. Either of the party may go to court when no cohabitation is made for one year or more. Under section 28 of Marriage Act 1954, the parties to marriage may file a joint application for mutual consent when they have been living separately for a period of one year or more and they agree mutually that the marriage should not be continued.

Bigamy under Marriage Act 1954

The marriage act 1954 is claimed a secular act. However, it imposes a restriction which most of the Muslims males may consider against their ‘personal marriage laws’. Every married person who contracts another marriage during lifetime of his or her spouse is considered committing an offence under Indian Penal Code 1860. Furthermore, the second marriage shall be considered void.

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