Report No. 59
Special Marriage Act
In this Chapter, we shall deal with the amendments required in the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, in addition to those already dealt1 with in connection with the proposals of the Ministry of Law.
The Special Marriage Act, 1954, occupies a significant place in Indian statutelaw. While introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha, the then Law Minister, Shri C.C. Biswas, stated:-
1"It is an attempt to lay down a uniform territorial law for the whole of India2."
From this point of view, the Act is of considerable legal interest.
1. Chapter 2, supra.
2. Lok Sabha Debates, (1954), Vol. 5, Pt. II, Col. 7797.
9.1. The amendments which we are going to propose in this Chapter, broadly speaking, fall into one or the other of the following categories:-
(a) amendments needed in order to introduce uniformity where necessary and reasonable between the provisions of the two Acts covering the same points, (either as they exist at present, or as they are proposed to be amended);
(b) amendments needed by way of additional provisions similar to the additional provisions proposed to be inserted in the Hindu Marriage Act;
(c) amendments needed in other provisions of the Act on the merits1.
In so far as the Special Marriage Act deals with the ceremonies of marriage and connected matters, the provisions-as the very title of the Act indicates-are of a specialised character, and the question of bringing uniformity between the two Acts does not, in general, arise. Nor have any suggestions been made for amending those provisions on the merits. We have, therefore, to concentrate on provisions connected with the special consequences of the marriage and matrimonial relief.
1. For example, sections 19 to 21, Special Marriage Act.
9.1. Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act lays down the section 4B, conditions for solemnizing a marriage under the Act. One of the conditions, as stated in clause (b), is that "neither party is an idiot or lunatic at the time of the marriage." We have, while discussing the corresponding provision of the Hindu Marriage Act, recommended a re-draft1, and we recommend that section 4(b) of the Special Marriage Act should also be revised on the same lines.
1. See recommendation as to section 5(ii), H.M.A.