SOLEMNIZED MARRIAGE (Syllabus GS Paper 1 – Indian Society)

News-CRUX-10     9th May 2024        

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that despite possessing an official marriage certificate, a Hindu couple before the Court had "never acquired the status of husband and wife," highlighting various issues on marriage registration and solemnization, emphasizing their necessity.

Solemnized Marriage

  • Definition: Solemnizing a marriage refers to conducting an official marriage ceremony with appropriate rituals.
  • Legal Framework in India: Marriage in India is primarily governed by personal laws and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA).
  • Personal Laws: In India personal laws are based on religious practices, with each religion having its own marriage requirements.
  • Validity: A marriage is considered valid when it meets the requirements prescribed by the respective personal laws or the SMA.
  • Examples:
  • Hindu: Rituals such as kanyadaan, panigrahana and saptapadi, or other local customs solemnize a Hindu marriage. 
  • Muslims: A valid marriage requires the consent of both parties, in writing, and in the presence of witnesses.
  • Christians: A ceremony in the Church based on local customs is regarded as a valid marriage.

Registered Marriages

  • Definition: It refer to the legal validation of a marriage through official registration after it has been solemnized.
  • Legal Framework: Marriages under laws like the Special Marriage Act (SMA) are recognized as valid without religious rituals, often performed in a registrar's office.

o Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act grants authority to states for registering marriages performed according to Section 7 requirements, ensuring legal recognition.

  • Validity under Personal Laws: Marriages governed by personal laws, such as the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), require the performance of religious rituals for validation.
  • Solemnization Requirements: Marriages without any rituals are deemed valid only under the Special Marriage Act (SMA).

What if a marriage is not registered?

  • Constitutional Framework: Entry 5 of the Concurrent List in the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule deals with marriage and divorce, and Entry 30 deals with vital statistics including registration of births and deaths.
  • Legal Implications: Both these subjects jointly or separately deal with the registration of marriages, emphasizing its legal significance.