Report No. 212
In the light of all that has been said above we find that there is a pressing need to amend the Special Marriage Act 1954 and the Foreign Marriage Act 1969. With a view to addressing this need we make the following recommendations:
1. The word "Special" be dropped from the title of the Special Marriage Act 1954 and it be simply called "The Marriage Act 1954" or "The Marriage and Divorce Act 1954." The suggested change will create a desirable feeling that this is the general law of India on marriage and divorce and that there is nothing "special" about a marriage solemnized under its provisions. It is in fact marriages solemnized under the community-specific laws which should be regarded as "special."
2. A provision be added to the application clause in the Special Marriage Act 1954 that all inter-religious marriages except those within the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain communities, whether solemnized or registered under this Act or not shall be governed by this Act.
3. The definition of "degrees of prohibited relationship" given in Section 2 (b) in the Special Marriage Act 1954 and the First Schedule detailing such degrees appended to the Act be omitted. Instead, it should be provided in Section 4 of the Act that prohibited degrees in marriage in any case of an intended civil marriage shall be regulated by the marriage law (or laws) otherwise applicable to the parties.
4. The requirement of a gazette notification for recognition of custom relating to prohibited degrees in marriage found in the Explanation to Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act 1954 be deleted.
5. The same provision in respect of prohibited degrees in marriage (as suggested in paragraph 3 above) be incorporated also into Section 4 of the Foreign Marriage Act 1969. The proviso to clause (d) of that Section and clause (a) of Section 2 of the Act be deleted. 276. All references to succession and joint family be removed from the Special Marriage Act 1954 and Sections 19, 20, 21 and 21-A of the Special Marriage Act 1954, dealing with succession and membership of joint family, be repealed.
7. A provision be inserted into the Indian Succession Act 1925 that any person whichever community he or she belongs to may, by a declaration on affidavit or by a written and duly attested will, opt for the application of this Act instead of the law of succession otherwise applicable to him or her.
We have a considered opinion that these recommendations, if accepted and implemented, will go a long way in popularizing civil marriages and since all such marriages would be governed by the same law it will be a mighty step towards translating into action the ideal of uniformity in civil laws envisaged by Article 44 of the Constitution of India.