To avoid conflicts arising out of various personal laws, there is a
growing view that all inter-religious marriages, except those within
the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain communities, be required to be held
only under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
According to a report submitted by the Law Commission of India for the purpose of matrimonial causes and remedies, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 provisions can be made applicable to them even if such a marriage has been solemnised under any other law.
These are among the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India in its report, ‘Laws of Civil Marriages in India - A Proposal to Resolve Certain Conflicts’ for marriages that fall outside the range of the general and common law of civil marriages in the country.
The report deals with the issue of numerous marriages which take place within India and abroad which are outside the ambit of various personal laws and cannot be governed by the general and common law of civil marriages, due to not having been formally solemnised or registered under it.
The report was recently forwarded by Commission chairman Dr Justice A R Lakshmanan, a former Supreme Court judge, to Union Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj.
The matter was taken up suo motu, due to a pressing need to amend the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, a release of the Law ministry said.
Though these enactments are meant equally for all communities of India, they contain a few provisions which inhibit people of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh communities to avail them. For marrying within these four communities, the Special Marriage Act, is an alternative to the Hindu Marriage Act.
The Muslims too have a choice between their uncodified personal law and the Special Marriage Act. but, the issue of its availability for a nuptial ceremony when both the parties are Christians, remains unresolved.
In view of the conflicts of various personal laws, all equally recognised in India, there is a growing view that all inter-religious marriages (except those within the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jaina communities) be required to be held only under the Special marriage Act, 1954.
Even if such a marriage has been solemnised under any other law, for the purpose of matrimonial causes and remedies, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 can be made applicable to them bringing all inter-religious marriages in the country under a uniform law. This will be in accordance with the underlying principle of Article 44 of the Constitution of India relating to a uniform civil code, the release added.
The present linkage between civil marriages and the applicable law of succession greatly inhibits or discourages certain communities for opting a civil marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, as it would deprive them of their laws of succession.
The Muslims and Parsis give utmost importance to their personal laws of succession and do not make use of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. There seems to be no reason why the Special Marriage Act, 1954 should have a provision regarding succession law to be applied in case of civil marriages.
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