Special Marriage Act, 1954

Special Marriage Act, 1954

GS Paper 2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

What is the applicability of the Special Marriage Act, 1954?

  • Special Marriage Act of 1954 applies to Any person, irrespective of religion and the entire territory of India, and extends to intending spouses who are Indian nationals living abroad.

 Requirements for the marriages to be performed under the Special Marriage Act,1954:

  • Marriages under this Act are a civil contract and do not need rites or ceremonies. 
  • Both parties have to file a Notice of Intended Marriage to the Marriage Registrar of the district in which at least one of the parties has resided for at least thirty days.
  • Marriage may be solemnized at the specified Marriage Office after thirty days of such notice, but it should not be objected to by any person. 
  • Both parties must declare each other as husband and wife in the presence of the Marriage Officer and three witnesses to make marriage  binding on the parties.

 Conditions of the marriage under the Special Marriage Act,1954:

  • The intended marriage must be monogamous for both parties.
  • Age of the bride must be at least 18 years old and the age of the groom must be at least 21 years old. 
  • Both parties must have given consent for the marriage and should have competent mental capacity. 
  • Inter-faith marriages must not fall within the degree of prohibited relationship.

Controversial  provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954:

  • Intention of  Special Marriage Act is to help consenting adults  belonging  from different religions or castes to  marry.
  • Under Section 5 of the SMA ,intended couples need to give notice to the Marriage Officer 30 days before the date of marriage.
  • Intimate details of the couple to be published for 30 days at the Marriage Registrar’s office under controversial provisions like Section 6.
  • Section 7 provides the process for objecting such as if either party has a living spouse, is incapable of giving consent due to “unsoundness of mind” or is suffering from a mental disorder resulting in the person being unfit for marriage or procreation.
  • Section 8 specifies the inquiry procedure to be followed after an objection has been submitted.
  • Peculiar requirements of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 are sharing intimate details like their names, date of birth, age, occupation, parents’ names and details, address, pin code, identity information, phone number, etc. 
  • The provisions in the Act allow anyone to submit objections to the marriage if they come to know of it through this public notice. 
  • The Marriage Officer is empowered to inquire into any objections raised.
  • In certain States, couples have to seek a no-objection certificate from their parents.

High-handedness of  various state govt:

  • Haryana government has laid down 16 prerequisites that ask couples to issue a notice in a newspaper and send such notices to their parents. 
  • The Maharashtra Department of Registration and Stamps publicly shares the details of couples marrying under SMA on its website and so did the Kerala government until the Athira case 
  • With as many as 11 States passing anti-conversion (or so-called love-jihad) laws, parents and the State are now armed to punish and harass such couples.

Issues associated with the Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • Requirement of couples to give a notice of 30 days before the date of marriage inviting objections from the public is violative of the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Since, these requirements are absent in personal laws provisions contravene Article 14 on the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, and sex as well as Article 15 on right to equality.
  • By throwing the personal information of the individuals open to public scrutiny, seriously damage one’s right to have control over her or his personal information and its accessibility.
  • By making the personal details of the couple accessible to everyone, the very right of the couple to be the decision makers of their marriage is being hampered by the state.
  • These public notices have been used by anti-social elements to harass couples getting married.
  • Rude behavior of the staff at the SDM’s office who often delete or delay applications and dissuade couples from marrying under SMA.

Sources: The Hindu; Jagran josh

Source Links:-

  1. The Hindu:-https://bit.ly/3DhBapP; https://bit.ly/3B0Li3u
  2. Jagran Josh:- https://bit.ly/3TQuB3j

Yojna IAS Daily current affairs eng med 1st Sep

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