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Report No. 23

The Law of Foreign Marriages

1. Genesis of reference.-

The reference on which this report is presented can be traced to the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Laying down the conditions relating to solemnisation of marriages under the Act, section 4(e) provides that where the marriage is solemnised outside the territories to which the Act extends, both parties should be citizens of India domiciled in the said territories. When that legislation was before Parliament, a suggestion was made that it should apply to marriages solemnised outside India even where one of the parties thereto was an Indian citizen. The then Law Minister Shri C.C. Biswas, gave an assurance in the course of the debates that suitable legislation on the subject of foreign marriages would be undertaken after a careful examination. He observed:

"Then comes sub-clause 4(f)1 which says, 'where the marriage is solemnised outside the territories to which this Act extends, both parties are citizens of India domiciled in the said territories'. It was suggested that this is not enough and that we should also make provision in this Bill for cases where one of the parties who is abroad is an Indian national or an Indian citizen domiciled there and the other party to the marriage is a foreigner professing another religion and so on.

Well, Sir, that ought to be the subject-matter of a separate Bill, may be on the lines of the Foreign Marriage Act in the U.K. I have already told the Select Committee that Government have under consideration a measure of that kind, but that would not be quite appropriate in this Bill and therefore that has been left out of this Bill. That does not mean that the matter will not be dealt with, but it requires very careful consideration, and we may have to modify the English Foreign Marriage Act of 1892, a great deal to suit our requirements."2

The matter has since been referred to this Commission.

1. This corresponds to section 4(e) as enacted.

2. Parliamentary Debates (Council of States), Vol. VI, No. 35, 29th April, 1954, cols. 4563-4564.

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