I am a 16 year old Muslim girl. Can I get married?

Under Muslim law, if a girl has attained puberty (15 years) then she can get married. So, a girl of 16 years old who has attained puberty can get married.1

  1. Shoukat Hussian and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP No.733 of 2021 (O&M)].[]

I am a Muslim girl, can I get married to a Christian boy?

Under Muslim law, only a Muslim man can marry a Christian woman or a woman from any other religion. This is not the case for a Muslim woman, as she cannot marry a Christian Man or a man from any other religion. If she does, then she will not be considered a Muslim anymore.1

However, now two people who are from different religions can marry and register under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Read more on our explainer on Special Marriage.

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.338.[]

My friend wants to get married to an older man who belongs to another religion. I do not approve of this. Can I object to her marriage under the Special Marriage Act?

Any person may object to a marriage if it goes against any of the requirements given in Section 4 of the Act. The objection must be made within 30 days of publication of the notice of the intended marriage. When an objection is made, the Marriage Officer will not allow the marriage to be performed until they address the objection. They will then make a decision within 30 days of the objection whether to uphold it or not. If they uphold the objection they will not perform the marriage.

I am a Hindu woman and I want to get married to a Muslim man. Is this possible?

Yes. Inter-religious marriages are permitted under the Special Marriage Act. Even if the marrying parties belong to different religions, they can get married under this Act without having to convert or change their religion. The only requirement is the valid consent of the parties. You must be at least 21 years old (if male) or 18 years old (if female).

What happens when you register an inter-religious marriage?

A marriage that has been registered under the Act by a marriage officer will be entered in the Marriage Certificate Book and will be deemed to be a legitimate marriage under the Act. All the children born after the date of the ceremony will also be considered to be legitimate children.

What is the ‘Saptapadi’ ceremony? Is it essential for a valid Hindu marriage?

The Saptapadi ceremony establishes the commitment the couple makes to each other during the Hindu wedding ceremony. Saptapadi quite literally translates from Sanskrit to ‘seven steps’. The couple takes seven full circles, walking clockwise around the ceremonial fire, representing the seven principles and promises they make to each other.

Your marriage is not legally ‘solemnized’ if you do not follow the essential ceremonies followed by either your or your spouse’s communities. There are different customary requirements in different parts of the country – generally, in north India, saptapadi and invocation before the sacred fire are considered essential ceremonies. However, these are not considered essential ceremonies in states like Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry – an exchange of garlands or rings and tying a thali is considered enough.

Saptapadi is therefore not necessary for all marriages. However, where saptapadi is observed as a ceremony, when last step taken around the fire the marriage will be considered complete.

Guide on Registration of Inter-religious Marriages

How can the guide help you?

The Nyaaya Guide on Inter-religious Marriages outlines the process involved if you wish to enter into an inter-religious or inter-faith civil marriage. Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, two people belonging to different religions can get married without converting to another religion. This guide summarizes the legal and procedural aspects of entering into an inter-religious (special) marriage,  including giving notice of the marriage, performing the marriage, and obtaining the marriage certificate.

What are the laws being discussed in the guide?

The Nyaaya Guide on Inter-religious Marriages  explains the Special Marriage Act, 1954. This Guide only covers the general law based on the Special Marriage Act, and you might have to refer to state-specific Special Marriage rules and procedures for more detailed information suited to your situation.

PROCEDURAL INFORMATION

Things to Remember Before Applying

Who can get married under the Special Marriage law? 

Irrespective of religion, any two people can marry under the Special Marriage Act as long as certain conditions are fulfilled. However, the Act only provides for a marriage between a man and a woman, and has not yet expanded its scope to cover same-sex couples and transgender people.

read more

Who is eligible to marry under the Special Marriage law? 

If you want to get married under this law, then at the time of the marriage you should be:

  • Single or Divorced. You should not be married to another person who is currently alive.
  • Capable of giving consent to the marriage with a sound mind.

read more

Where do you go to register an Inter-Religious (Special) Marriage?

To register a special marriage, you should go to the Marriage Officer’s office, found in every district.

 

STEPS FOR AN INTER-RELIGIOUS (SPECIAL) MARRIAGE

Giving Notice of the Marriage

If you want to get married under the Special Marriage Act, you need to give a written notice of the marriage. The notice should be sent to the Marriage Officer of the district where you or the person you want to marry have been living. You should have been living in the district you are giving notice in for at least thirty days before notifying the Officer.

You have to submit documents for registering the marriage. While the required documents vary according to the State/Union Territory, here is a general list of documents you might require:

read more

Publication of the Notice

The Marriage Officer will keep the notice with their office records and enter a true copy in the Marriage Notice Book, which can be inspected by any person at all reasonable times, free of cost. The Officer will also publish the notice by attaching a copy of the notice in a clearly visible place in their office.

At the time of applying for marriage, if you are not  permanently residing within the district, the Marriage Officer will transfer a copy of the notice to the Marriage Officer of the district where you are permanently residing, and that Marriage Officer will attach a copy of the notice in a clearly visible place in their office.

Objecting to the Marriage

After a Marriage Officer publishes the marriage notice, any person can object to the intended marriage if it violates any of the conditions for a valid marriage under the Special Marriage Act. The  objection must be made within thirty days of the notice publication.

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Upholding Objection

If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection and refuses to perform the marriage, you can appeal to the concerned district court i.e., the court having judicial authority in the district where the Marriage Officer has their office. You should make the appeal within thirty days of the Officer’s refusal. The district court will take the final decision on the appeal, and the Officer will obey the decision of the court.

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Performing the Marriage

Before the marriage is performed, you, the person you are marrying, as well as three witnesses, should sign a declaration in front of the Marriage Officer. The Officer will also sign the declaration.

You can perform the  marriage at the office of the Marriage Officer. You can also choose to get married at any other place within a reasonable distance from the office. However, for this, you have to pay additional fees.

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The Marriage Certificate

After the marriage has been conducted, the Marriage Officer will enter a certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book.

You, the person you are marrying as well as  three witnesses must sign the marriage certificate. After the Officer enters the  certificate in the Book, this certificate becomes conclusive evidence of the marriage.

The marriage certificate is legal proof of a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It confirms that the marriage is valid and has been completed with all formalities under the law.