Published by - The Wed Post | 10 minute read
Image by Zero Gravity Photography
The Indian wedding industry has been in its worst state ever since the Covid-19 hit the country. While a lot of industries are predicted to pick momentum once the lockdown is lifted, most Indians are still unsure about when they can finally start having ‘conventional’ wedding celebrations. However, with mass-gatherings appearing unlikely to happen anytime soon, we have been coming across a lot of couples who are planning to go the ‘court marriage’ way. While big fat celebrations with traditional ceremonies can always happen a few months or maybe a year later, the idea of tying the knot in a court and beginning your ‘happily ever after’ at your earliest seems to already be a hit amidst Indian couples.
So if you too are looking forward to tying the knot soon and considering a court-marriage as an option, here’s all that you need to know about planning one.
To begin with, according to the Special Marriage Act of 1954, a couple can apply for getting married in a court if they fulfill a few prerequisites. The proviso for eligibility of a marriage in India includes that the bride and groom are of marriageable age (18 years for girls and 21 years for boys), without a pre-existing marriage, mentally sound, unrelated by legitimate or illegitimate blood relationship and capable of giving their consent.
Before you begin your process of filing the notice, you’ll have to ensure that you have a few documents in place. The list of documents for Indian citizens includes the evidence of the date of birth of both the bride and groom (Matriculation Certificate/Passport/Birth Certificate), proof of residence (ration card or report from the concerned Station House Officer), separate affidavits from bride and groom mentioning their date of birth, present marital status, affirmation that they are not related to each other within the degree of prohibited relationship defined in the Special Marriage Act, 2 passport size photographs of both bride and groom duly attested by a Gazetted Officer and a copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.
In case of the bride or groom being a foreign national, they would require to submit a copy of their passport and visa, a documentary evidence stating stay in India for 30 or more days (proof of residence or report from the concerned SHO), a certificate of NOC or marital status certificate from their concerned embassy.
The process of a court marriage in India begins with the bride and groom filing a notice at the office of the SDM or Marriage Registrar nearest to their place of residence, where either of the two has been residing for at least a period of 30 days. Once all the above mentioned documents are submitted to the office, a notice of marriage gets filed in accordance with the Schedule II of the Special Marriage Act of 1954.
Once the notice has been filed, it gets displayed at the office of the Registrar for a period of 30 days, open for any objections. Within this period, anybody with any legal reason to stop the marriage can raise a complaint with the registrar. However, if you have your documents in place and have all above mentioned prerequisites fulfilled, then you do not have a reason to worry about this step. If an objection does stand valid according to the law, the issue will be investigated in detail. If proved valid, the marriage procedure will be stopped. However, if the objection is declared void, the court will proceed with your application. After the period of 30 days, if your application stands unobjected, the registrar will begin with the process of getting your and your partner married!
This is the day you finally get announced as husband and wife! The couple is required to sign their wedding declaration in the presence of three witnesses (who will be required to submit their identity proof, PAN card and 2 passport size photographs). However, this process is not required to be held at the office of the registrar. The Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act allows the couple to solemnise their wedding at any place within reasonable distance from the office.
Once the marriage is solemnised legally, a Certificate of Marriage signed by the couple, registrar and the three witnesses is issued, making the bride and groom legally bound! In case the couple has already performed a religious ceremony before signing the declaration, the procedure of issuing the certificate becomes faster and takes less than a couple of hours.
The fees of having a court marriage in India varies state to state but is generally very nominal. However, if the couple ops for hiring an agent or advocate to help them sail through the process, the expense might go up considerably, However, the process seems to be quite seamless and easy and doesn’t require a third-party intervention. If planned and executed well, the process of tying the knot through a court marriage takes a minimum of 30-45 days (inclusive of all the document hunting). An easy, pocket-friendly and quicker option for couples who do want to wait battling this time of uncertainty, a court marriage now followed with a fun celebration, later, when things settle, indeed seems quite a reasonable option to us!