This Special Marriage Act permits marriages between persons who are not of the same community or who have different religions or nationalities. The scope of the Act includes the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad. The groom must be at least 21 years old, while the bride must be at least 18 years of age. Both parties should have full mental capacity and not be currently married. Parties to the marriage must provide notice of their intention to solemnize the marriage before a marriage officer in the district where at least one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days prior to the notice. Notice of the intended marriage is entered into the Marriages Notice Book, which is open for public inspection with an inspection fee. The public has the right to object to the marriage for the following 30 days. Any objections must be investigated and resolved within an additional 30 days.
Prior to the solemnization of the marriage, the parties and three witnesses must sign a declaration in front of a marriage officer, who will also sign the document. The marriage may be solemnized in any form that the parties wish to adopt as long as the solemnization occurs at the marriage officer’s office or any place that the marriage officer sanctions. The marriage must include the exchange of the following statement: “I (name of self) take you (name of partner) to be my lawful (wife or husband).” After the solemnization, the marriage officer will enter the certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book. The parties and the three witnesses must sign the certificate. The entry of the certificate in the book is deemed conclusive evidence of a lawful marriage.
Any marriage in India may 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.
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