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Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954


Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a writ petition challenging provisions of the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954 requiring couples to give a notice declaring their intent to marry 30 days before their marriage.

  • The case was denied by the SC on the grounds that the petitioner was no longer a harmed party because she had previously celebrated her marriage in accordance with the SMA.


GS-II: Polity and Governance


  1. What is the petition asking for?
  2. About Special Marriage Act, 1954
  3. Applicability of the Act
  4. The Section of SMA which is being contested

What is the petition asking for?

  • The petition argued that some SMA provisions were unconstitutional because they violated the right to privacy protected by Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • This is due to the laws’ requirement that couples submit notice 30 days prior to the wedding date inviting public objections.
  • Due to the absence of these conditions in personal laws, these provisions violate both Article 14 on the right to equality and Article 15 on the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, and sex.

About Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  • Marriages solemnized under Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.

The Act has 3 major objectives:

  • to provide a special form of marriage in certain cases,
  • to provide for registration of certain marriages and,
  • to provide for divorce.
Applicability of the Act
  • Any person, irrespective of religion.
  • Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, or Jews can also perform marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
  • Inter-religion marriages are performed under this Act.
  • This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.
  • Indian national living abroad.
Succession to the property
  • Succession to the property of person married under this Act or customary marriage registered under this Act and that of their children, are governed by Indian Succession Act.
  • However, if the parties to the marriage are Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religion, the succession to their property will be governed by Hindu succession Act.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act is pertinent to Hindus, though the Special Marriage Act is appropriate to all residents of India regardless of their religion applicable at Court marriage.
The Section of SMA which is being contested
  • Under Sections 5 and 6 of the SMA, the parties wishing to marry are supposed to give a notice for their marriage to the Marriage Officer in an area where one of the spouses has been living for the last 30 days. Then, the marriage officer publishes the notice of marriage in his office.
  • Anyone having any objection to the marriage can file against it within a period of 30 days. If any such objection against the marriage is sustained by the marriage officer, the marriage can be rejected.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023