Struggles and Scars

Here’s how one can go about a court marriage or an Arya Samaj marriage in India

For various reasons, many young couples opt for court marriage, an alternative to the usual social ceremony. Here is a guide to how to go about planning a court marriage
court marriage

Court marriages in India

Picture the clichéd Bollywood romantic movie scene, where the star couple elopes at night, empty-handed from their respective homes and gets married in court the subsequent morning with all smiles and cheering friends. Is this possible in real life? Actually, unless you have applied 30 days prior to your intended date of court marriage, no one will entertain you in that crowded registrar office. And if you approach them without any documents, you will definitely be shooed away.

However, the good news is that the overall process of court marriages in India after 2006 has become less strenuous. This is because the Judiciary wants to encourage registration of marriages in the whole of India and for all its citizens, irrespective of their religion and personal law and without any exceptions or exemptions.

Court Marriage: What it means

The term ‘Marriage Registration’ is often confused with the term ‘Court Marriage’. Although court marriage is a form of marriage registration, they both have different meanings. While in the first scenario you are merely ‘Registering’ an already solemnised marriage, in the latter, you are actually getting married in the presence of the Registrar of Marriages.

According to Part 6 of the Civil Registration Act 2004, the registration procedure for marriage is now the same in all Indian states. You may belong to the same religion or two different religions. It does not affect the process of court marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. A court marriage is a civil contract and hence requires no rites or ceremonies.

Indian laws still do not allow same sex marriages. So, the marriage can take place only between a male and a female. The couple can directly apply to the Marriage Registrar for registering and getting married, followed by applying for the marriage certificate, only after they fulfil the necessary conditions.

Court Marriage: How to apply to get married in court

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  • The couple has to file a Notice of Intended Marriage date in the specified form to the Marriage Registrar of the district in which either of them has resided for a period of not less than 30 days from the notice period.
  • A general notice is pasted on the notice board of the Marriage Registrar’s office, inviting objections, if any.
  • If there is no objection after 30 days, the marriage may be solemnised at the Marriage Registrar’s Office.
  • The couple, along with three witnesses, is required to be present on the date given by the Registrar for registering the marriage.

All the forms required for application of court marriage are easily available online, and some registrars even offer online application for an intended court marriage. However, the couple and the three witnesses have to be physically present on the day assigned by the registrar for the court marriage.

Related reading: Running away together: Parimala Jaggesh

Mandatory documents for Court Marriage

  • Application form (available online) in the prescribed format and fees
  • Passport size photographs of the couple
  • Residential proof of the couple
  • Proof of Date of Birth of the couple
  • Three witnesses need to provide Residential Proof and PAN cards
  • Death certificate or divorce decrees, whichever is applicable, in case of a previous marriage of any one of the partners

court marriage

Before the Registrar solemnises the marriage, the couple and the three witnesses must sign a declaration in front of a marriage officer, who will also sign the document. Later, the marriage officer will enter the certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book. The entry of the certificate in the book is deemed conclusive evidence of a lawful marriage.

Any marriage in India can be registered under this Act. The parties must jointly apply for the marriage registration. After 30 days of notice to the public, the marriage officer will enter the certificate into the Marriage Certificate Book. The spouses and three witnesses must sign the certificate.

In case a marriage between an Indian and a foreign national is to take place, they have to file a notice of intended marriage with a Marriage Registrar where the Indian partner resides. That notice is required to be published for the stipulated 30 days. At the end of the 30 days the Marriage Registrar is free to perform the marriage.

Related reading:After being opposed to our marriage, how my in-laws finally accepted me

Court Marriage: What might be a problem?

Love birds who want to have a happily-ever-after the filmy way may find one probable hitch associated with a court marriage, and that is “how to keep their wedding a secret?” The secret can be exposed because of the notice of intended marriage, the publication of the notice of the marriage and the notice for address verification sent to the respective families. Even the police station falling in the jurisdiction is at times sent a copy of the notice of the intended marriage. All the entries at the registrar can be obtained very easily by anyone any time, thus revealing their marriage status.

However, this issue was properly dealt with in the Delhi High Court judgement delivered by Justice S Ravindra Bhat in Pranav Kumar Mishra V. Govt of NCT of Delhi, stating the right to privacy and hence no need to inform the parents about the court marriage.

To avoid any such glitches, many couples are attracted to Arya Samaj marriages. Those couples who wish to keep their marriage a secret until they get their valid marriage certificate, first get married through Arya Samaj rituals and then register with the Registrar of Marriages. Some of them even provide all the legal aid required.

An alternative to court marriage is the Arya Samaj marriage

The Arya Samaj Mandir has been conducting marriages for over 150 years all over India. Marrying through the Arya Samaj is the fastest and most cost effective, especially if both of the partners are Hindu, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.

The ceremony of an Arya Samaj marriage is conducted as per the Vedic ritual, and valid under the Arya Samaj Marriage Validation Act, 1937 with provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Unlike Court marriage where you need to apply 30 days prior to get married, an Arya Samaj marriage takes around 1-2 hours for completion. However, the Arya Samaj has both ‘social’ and ‘legal’ responsibilities to check the validity of the alliance. Once the fees and forms are fully furnished and accepted, the Arya Samaj ceremony is performed on a first-come-first-served basis after a 48-hour wait period for any changes, depending on the availability of the priest.

Eligibility for an Arya Samaj marriage

  • The groom must be 21 and the bride 18 years old at the time of the registration
  • Inter-caste marriages and inter-religious marriages are also performed in Arya Samaj rules, provided none of the marrying partners are Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jewish. Persons of these religions can convert through a process called Shuddhi

Documents required for an Arya Samaj marriage

  • Four colour photographs each of the bride and groom
  • Proof of date of birth and residence of both
  • Two witnesses
  • Death certificate or divorce decrees, whichever is applicable, in case of a previous marriage of any one of the partners
  • When one of the pair is a foreign citizen or holding a foreign passport or a foreign residential address, a Certificate of present marital status of the party/No Impediment Certificate/NOC from the concerned Embassy and a valid visa

Within five to ten working days after wedding ceremony is over, the Arya Samaj will issue a Marriage Certificate which can be produced at the Registrar of Marriage for issuance of a legal certificate.

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The Arya Samaj Mandir provides legal assistance in its premises as well as online. For a very nominal fee, the volunteers of Arya samaj can handle all your paperwork from application for the marriage to the registration of the marriage in the registrar.

 

Sneha and Omkar’s no-fuss court marriage

Sneha was from Kerala and her boyfriend Omkar was from Jharkhand. They fell in love in Goa and decided to have a court marriage in Goa, followed by a traditional wedding ceremony in Kerala. Since both Sneha and Omkar completed their schooling and college from Goa, getting a bona fide certificate for residential proof was no problem. All they had to do was get an affidavit from the notary stating their intention of marriage, along with the application for court marriage. They had to submit this and the respective age and residence documents along with identity and residence documents of the three witnesses. They submitted this on the 3rd of September and were given the date of 30th September for the court marriage.

On the 30th September, Sneha arrived with her family and Omkar arrived with his friends (his family was against the marriage). When the peon called their names, they went and signed the register along with the witnesses and the registrar of marriage. They did not exchange garlands, just distributed sweets. They were asked to collect the marriage certificate within a week.

Is a court marriage valid?

Tabooing inter-caste marriage is ‘absolutely illegal’: Says Supreme Court of India

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