Report No. 211
Registration of Christian, Parsi, Jewish and Bahai Marriages
A. Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872
The Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 provides that every marriage both parties to which are, or either party to which is, Christian shall be solemnized in accordance with its provisions (Section 4). This provision conflicts with the Special Marriage Act 1954 which is available, like everyone else, also to Christians for marrying within or outside their community. It has, however, not been amended or repealed.
The Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 is obsolete in so far as it makes a distinction between "Christians" (defined as "persons professing Christian religion") and "Indian Christians" (defined as "Christians descendants of natives of India converted to Christianity as well as such converts"). It also makes separate provisions for followers of various Churches - including Church of England (also called Anglican Church), Church of Scotland and Church of Rome (also called Roman Catholic Church). The Act provides separate rules for the solemnization and registration of marriages of Indian Christians and other Christians, and also for the followers of various Churches.
Due to the aforestated classification and distinctions the system of registration of marriages provided by the Act is quite complicated. Marriages may, according to the Act, be solemnized by the following:
(i) Ministers of Church who have received episcopal ordination;
(ii) Clergymen of the Church of Scotland;
(iii) Ministers of Religion licensed under the Act;
(iv) Marriage Registrars appointed under the Act; and
(v) Persons licensed under the Act to grant certificates of marriage between "Indian Christians".
Part IV of the Act (Sections 27-37) contains elaborate provisions for registration of marriages solemnized by Ministers and Clergymen covered by categories (i) to (iii) above. There are in this Part separate registration provisions for marriages of Christians in general and of Indian or Native Christians.
Part V of the Act (Sections 38-59) provides rules for solemnization-cumregistration of marriages directly by Marriage Registrars appointed under the Act.
Part VI (Sections 60-65) relates to marriages of "Indian Christians" solemnized by licensees under the Act and provides rules for certification.
There are different provisions in the Act for the transmission of records of registration of various categories of marriage to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
This Act, thus, has a very complicated system of registration of marriages solemnized under this Act and it suffers from a tremendous lack of uniformity.