HOW CAN AN INTER-CASTE COUPLE REGISTER FOR A MARRIAGE?

“The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the national unity. Inter-caste marriages destroy the caste system and hence they are in the national interest.”

Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (AIR 2006 SC 2522).

INTRODUCTION

Indian society has been dominated by caste and religion for a long time. The caste-based society has created divisions in the society. Marriage is an important institution of society and has so far been majorly performed within the same caste. However, the advent of the modern way of living has led to a transformation in the mindset of people. The youth of modern society does not follow the caste barriers and thus there has been an increase in inter-caste marriages. Inter- caste marriages are surely a positive step ahead in order to bridge the caste gaps in society and bring about social harmony. 

Know more about the procedure of registering an inter-caste marriage in India which can be done under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Special Marriage Act, 1955.

INTER-CASTE MARRIAGE UNDER HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was enacted in order to bring about uniformity in the law governing marriage of Hindus. The Act is based on customs of Hindu law with some changes and modifications. Marriage under Hindu law is a sacrament and considered a ‘Sanskara’.

Application of Hindu Marriage Act

The applicability of the Act has been laid down in the sec. 2. The act is applicable to the following people:

  1. Follows Hindu religion or its other forms, or follows Arya, Brahmo, PrarthanaSamaj.
  2. Buddhist, Sikh, Jain by religion.
  3. A person domiciled in India not Muslim, Parsi, Christian or Jew by religion.

Thus, going by the applicability of the Act, people belonging to any caste under Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist religion can marry under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Conditions of Marriage

The essential conditions for marriage have been dealt under the sec. 5 of the Act. Following are the conditions: –

  1. The age of groom should be at least twenty-one years and that of the bride eighteen years.
  2. Neither of them should have a spouse living.
  3. The couple should not be within the prohibited degree of kinship.
  4. They should not be sapinda of each other.
  5. Valid consent should be there.

If these conditions are present, marriage can be done under the Hindu Marriage Act. There is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court on the issue. In the case of Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (AIR 2006 SC 2522), the Supreme Court declared that inter-caste marriage was legal as per the Hindu Marriage Act.

Solemnization of Marriage

Sec. 7 of the Act deals with the ceremonies of Marriage. It specifies that the marriage may be in a manner with the tradition and ceremonies of either party. Also, in the case of Saptpadi (seven steps around sacred fire), marriage is complete after the seventh step.

Registration of Marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act

The provisions relating to registration are provided in the sec. 8 of the Act. The State government has the power to lay down the rules of registration of marriage.

For registering the marriage, the conditions laid down under the Act must be fulfilled and ceremonies must have been performed. Thereafter for purpose of registration, the parties must submit Application Form, address proof, photographs of marriage, etc. Submit fees and thereupon after verifying the documents, the marriage shall be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act by Marriage Registrar of the District.

INTER-CASTE MARRIAGE UNDER SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT, 1955

The Special Marriage Act, 1955 is a secular law governing the marriages. Under the Act, marriage can be performed irrespective of any religion of the parties. The Act is different from the Hindu Marriage Act, in the sense that under the Hindu Marriage Act both parties must be Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist by religion. Under the Special Marriage Act, people belonging to any religion or caste may marry each other.

Conditions of Marriage

Sec. 4 deals with the conditions for marriage under the Special Marriage Act: –

  1. The age of bridegroom should be at least twenty-one years and that of the bride eighteen years.
  2. Neither of them should have a spouse living.
  3. The couple should not be within the prohibited degree of relations.
  4. Valid consent should be there.

No specific ceremonies are to be performed under the Special Marriage Act.

Procedure of Registration

Following is the procedure which must be followed for registering the marriage under the Special Marriage Act: –

  1. The parties need to submit a notice before the Marriage Registrar of the District. One of them must have resided for at least 30 days in the jurisdiction.
  2. The marriage must be solemnized; it may be done at the Office of Registrar in front of three witnesses. The parties need to state that, “I, (X), take thee (Y), to be my lawful wife/ husband”. 
  3. The notice is then published for inviting objections.
  4. If no objections are received in 30 days, the marriage shall be registered.
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