What is the Eligibility for Marriage Registration under the Special Marriage Act?
What is the Eligibility for Marriage Registration under the Special Marriage Act?

Marriage, the reciprocating social adjustment of two individuals as spouses, and social advancement as a family is a bond sealed with love. It often entails gratuitous returns for the relationship, as sustained by the institution itself and societal norms. However, marriages can have their fair share of complexities because, unlike love, which involves the participation and involvement of just the ones who are together, marriage is a flurry of activity and ushering of opinions that tend to affect the bond partially or even wholly. 

The evils of the caste system that are conferred upon us, under being born into respective families, or of the partners belonging to different religions/ creed/ nationality, are often why people harbour systemic collusion of beliefs of many intones, mostly disapproving. 

Marriage Registration significance

The Indian judiciary intends to keep both the partners’ well-being and rights bound by marriage, safeguarded and primarily far from exploitation or abuse. To some extent, it entails a legal contract, which is the doctrine that needs to be abided by both spouses during the marriage and even after a possible dissolution or divorce. Hence registration of marriages makes it legitimate with a bonus that it can be managed by and with the help of law. 

The Special Marriage Act

The Indian Legislative system incorporated the Special Marriage Act. It made it functional in 1954 to facilitate and register marriages of Indian individuals with Indians living in foreign countries, or inter-faith, inter-caste or inter-religious marriages. Once registered under this act, even if one of the spouses or both are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, or Sikhs, they can be bonded in marriage. However, two individuals belonging to the same religion, caste, or nationality can also apply under the Special Marriage Act. This act extends to all states of India, except the territories of Jammu and Kashmir.

Eligibility to Apply Under the Special Marriage Act

  • Both individuals who intend to get married should be Indian Nationals (could reside anywhere)
  • The minimum age specified by law for a woman to get married is eighteen years, while for a man it is twenty-one years. 
  • Both parties should be free-willingly consenting, no coercion is permissible, and the marriage will not be registered if any such behaviour is observed.
  • The parties should be sane in mind, and their mental integrity should be intact while consenting.
  • The parties cannot be each other’s Sapindas, blood-related or half-blood.

How does one register for The Special marriage Act?

Both parties should file a notice (an application for the registration of their marriage under the Special Marriage Act) at least 30 days (could be more) before the day of marriage at the office of the Sub-divisional Magistrate of the district where at least one of the partners has stayed for over a month. During this period of 30 days, any one of the parties or the SDM himself could raise an objection to the marriage in case of any discrepancies. An objection is raised in the event of reported misconduct or if the relationship falls on the prohibited relationship list or any observed signs of coercion. 

The notice hence issued will be conveyed to the individual’s address by the registrar, and both individuals who are to be married to each other, and along with them, their three witnesses should be present on the decided date. They should also bring along their identity proofs, birth certificate, and other important documents required when registering. Both parties should be present together to sign the documents on the day of issuing the marriage certificate.

The marriage will be officially solemnised through legal affidavits brought in by both spouses separately and their lawyers. 

Documents Required

  • Age proof and birth certificate
  • Address registered with the government, as seen in official documents such as Aadhar Card, PAN card, Passport etc.
  • Affidavit of the Marital Status (divorced/ widow/ widower/ unmarried)
  • At least three passport-size Photos
  • Parties confirming that the lineage both individuals share does not fall under the cohort of a prohibited marriage of family relations, as mentioned in the act

Witnesses should also bear the same documents to prove their credibility and relation to each party.

Objection Period, powers vested with each party and the Marriage Registrar

During the 30 days window, after the filing and displaying of the notice in a noticeable place/board, the marriage registrar may exercise his powers to check whether the marriage taking place checks all the boxes, is lawful and consensual. Moreover, any discrepancy is also reported to him. 

  • The power of enquiry that rests with the Registrar allows him to support an individual party or both to the court. 
  • He can ask them to produce relevant documents, brief the individuals on the conditions of the oath, and explain to them what it entails before and after marriage. 
  • The registrar has every right to go through the details of the documents provided, to look out for any age discrepancy, mismatched information provided and said, whether or not the couple is lawfully out of the prohibition act spectrum, address, date of birth, nationality, citizenship ID proof etc.
  • It also allows him to observe the party’s behaviour, mental sanity and any obvious signs of discomfort/ coercion. He may also confront them verbally if there is any hint of trouble. 
  • The registrar may also want to have a word with the witnesses if he pleases or necessitates their presence during oath or court visits of the parties intending to get married. 
  • The Registrar may also issue the affidavits from the advocates hired by the parties separately or together.
  • The registrar may also scrutinise the credibility of the witnesses.

Debasing false objections/objections that are not well-intentioned:

  • In the event of one of the parties reportedly making false objections or not putting forth well-intending objections against the marriage or the other party, during the 30 days window period, the registrar with his powers of self-discretion on the matter, may impose a fine of Rs 1000, on the same party.
  • This money will be given hence, to the other party.
  • In case of resolved conflicts and objections, the notice issued is valid for three months; hence another period of 30 days can be an observed post which the two parties. 
  • After this, marriage is solemnised for the couple, in the form of a court marriage or the traditional ways, involving the customary rites and rituals, marriage reception etc., depending on how the parties wish to go ahead with it.
  • The certificate, however, should mention the date, location and time of marriage, so it is best to have them pre-decided.


After marriage, plenty of new discussions and areas that both spouses are novices to surface. Being well acquainted with the laws and the benefits it holds for them, the rules that apply to them now, that didn’t before, are all very integral to the marriage, as much as is the participation of them both in creating a societal advancement in the name of family. Conjugal rights safeguard each other from evils like domestic abuse, mental/ physical abuse, threats, marital home implications and discomfort, detention, and property usurpation. 

Marriage does not give heir rights from husband to wife or wife to husband. Children of the couple may have rights that are mutually decided upon. Marriage is a consortium of two free-thinking individuals who have equal footing in society. Being safeguarded by the law keeps all kinds of evils and misconceptions, and self-proclamations at bay.