Report No. 211
B. New Special Marriage Act 1954
The new Special Marriage Act 1954 also combines solemnization and registration of civil marriages into the same transaction. It enables the State governments to appoint one or more Marriage Officers for its purposes for various administrative units. The Act does not apply in the State of Jammu and Kashmir but provides for the appointment of Marriage Officers there for the people domiciled outside but living within the State (Section 3).
The procedure for civil marriages under this Act is more or less the same as under the first Special Marriage Act of 1872 - beginning with a notice of an intended marriage to be given in the prescribed form to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one party has lived for at least 30 days (Section 5) and ending with its solemnization in his presence (Sections 11-12).
The provision of the old Act of 1872 for a Marriage Certificate Book to be maintained by the Marriage Officers is retained in the new Act which also provides that the marriage certificate "shall be deemed to be conclusive evidence of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized and all formalities respecting the signatures of witnesses have been complied with." (Section 13)
By a new provision not found in the old Special Marriage Act of 1872 the new Special Marriage Act of 1954 provides the facility of converting an existing religious marriage into a civil marriage by its registration under its provisions (Section 15). The procedure for this is the same as for marriages to be originally solemnized under the Act, including the issuance of a marriage certificate.
The provision for periodical transmission of marriage records by all Marriage Officers to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages is retained in the new Act, periodicity and forms for which are to be prescribed by the State governments under the Rules to be framed for carrying out purposes of the Act (Sections 48-50).