Law Family law

India is a land of diversity, and people follow their rituals in accordance with their religion. The institution of marriage is considered sacred amongst Hindus, and the same is a contract among Mohammedans. It is, however, necessary to register the marriage to get a legal effect on the marriage. The Honorable Supreme Court also made it compulsory to register the marriage. In India, marriage is registered either under the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, only Hindus can get their marriage registered. Under the Special Marriage Act, anyone irrespective of their religion can get their marriage registered at the Marriage Registrar’s office. The Hindus have to comply with the requisites for a valid Hindu marriage as enshrined in Sections 5 and 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act. However, a Hindu marriage's solemnization is to be done before making the application for registration of the marriage.

The Act does not provide for the solemnization of marriage by the marriage registrar. In case of registration under the Special Marriage Act, the solemnization and the registration of the marriage have to be done by the Marriage Officer. The age of marriage under both the legislation would remain the same, i.e., 21 years for males and 18 years for females.

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Registration under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:

The registration under Hindu Marriage Act can only be done if both the parties are Hindu (Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh are also Hindus) or are converted to Hindu. It does not apply to Non- Hindus. The parties have to comply with the requisites of sections 5 and 7 of the Act. Section 5 of the Act provides that the marriage be a valid Hindu marriage, either of the parties:

  • Shall not be married before whose spouse is living at the time of marriage;

  • Shall not be of unsound mind or he shall not be suffering from such a mental disorder that he is unfit for marriage or procreation of child;

  • Shall not be subject to recurrent attacks of insanity;

  • The male shall be of 21 years, and the female shall be 18 years of age;

  • Shall not come within the prohibited degree of a relationship unless their customs allow such a marriage;

  • Shall not be Sapindus.

However, to register the marriage, the maiden step is to make an application for registration of the marriage to the Sub-Registrar within whose territorial jurisdiction the marriage has been solemnized or to the Sub-Registrar where the parties are residing. Both the partners have to fill in the application form to the best of their knowledge and sign it.

The application form has to be submitted along with two photographs of the marriage ceremony, invitation card of marriage, age and address proof of both the parties, affidavit of the Notary or the Executive Magistrate to prove that the couple is married under Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The parties have to show that each of them is mentally fit and proof of non-relationship between the parties within the degree of prohibition.

All the aforementioned documents have to be attested by a Gazetted Officer. The parties shall deposit a fee with the Sub-Registrar cashier and annex the receipt of the payment to the application form. Once the application is made and the concerned officer verifies them, he assigns a date of registration of marriage when the parties would get the marriage certificate document.

Registration under the Special Marriage Act, 1954:

Any person can solemnize and register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, irrespective of their caste or religion. The marriage's solemnization and registration have to be done before the Marriage Officer with the territorial jurisdiction. There are certain conditions enumerated under section 4 for a lawful marriage. They are:

  • Neither of the parties should have a spouse living at the time of the marriage;

  • The age of the parties should be according to the law;

  • The parties should not be mentally unsound or physically incapable of procreating child;

  • The marriage should not be done within the prohibited degree of relationship.

The marriage not complying with the above-mentioned conditions are null and void under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The solemnization of marriage of a Hindu can also be done under this Act.

The parties intending to solemnize and register their marriage under this Act shall serve a notice to the District's Marriage Officer in writing. However, at least one of the parties shall be residing at the place of the registration thirty days preceding the date of the service of the notice.

The Marriage Officer shall make a publication of such notice to the notice board of his office and make it open for inspection by the general public. If the notice under section 6 of the Act is not objected to before the expiry of thirty days from the date of publication of the notice, the marriage may be solemnized.

However, in case of objection to the notice published, the Marriage Officer can hold the marriage till he makes an inquiry and satisfies himself about the objection made or the person objecting withdraws it. This shall not take more than thirty days from the date of the objection made. Further, on the day of the marriage's solemnization, the parties have to submit required documents like identity proof, age proof, affidavit concerning these, and marital status, passport size photograph, etc.

Moreover, three witnesses, along with the parties, shall sign the declaration form, and the same is counter-signed by the Marriage Officer. The marriage may be solemnized either at the Marriage Officer's office or at another place within a reasonable distance from the office.

The last step for solemnization and registration under this Act is putting signature by the parties, three witnesses, and the Marriage Officer in the marriage certificate under section 13 of the Act. Thus, the parties may seek the certificate of marriage.

Online Marriage Registration:

With the advent of technology, marriage registration can also be done online on the prescribed website. The requisites are to be fulfilled to reach out to the acknowledgement page. The copy of the application form and the acknowledgement slip are to be taken to the Registrar's office along with two witnesses, and address proof is all that you need to get your marriage registered online.

Recently the Kerala High Court Division Bench of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath held that marriages under the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, could be registered through video conference. The bench was hearing a group of petitions seeking marriage under SMA through video conference. A single judge referred the cases on 25th August.

At the outset, the bench said they are inclined to allow the matter as, during the era of technology, marriages can be registered without being physically present before the marriage officer. However, their only concern is that the officer must be in a position to recognize the parties.


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Author: Shweta Singh