Special Marriage Act 1872 governs the marriages of persons who are not professing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs or Jains and also those persons who profess the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religion where such persons wish to marry out of their community into one of the remaining three communities. The minimum age under the Act is 18 for males and 14 for females and consent of the guardian or parents is required for the party who is under 21. No persons can marry who would have been unable to marry according to the laws of consanguinity or affinity under their personal law. No law of consanguinity operates however unless a relationship can be traced between the parties through some common ancestor who stands to each of them in a nearer relation than that of a great-great-grandfather or a great-great-grandmother or unless one of the parties is a lineal ancestor or brother or sister of some lineal ancestor of the other. Marriages are solemnized before Registrars appointed for this purpose. Notice of marriage must be given and in absence of any objections can be solemnized after 14 days. Objections must be filed in court and if the court is in vacation Registrar must wait 14 days after opening of court so that objections can be lodged. A certificate of the filing of suit must be lodged with Registrar if he is to take cognizance that such objections have been made. Where such objections are frivolous, the person making them may be fined. The marriage must be solemnized before three witnesses and parties must sign a declaration in their presence and that of Registrar, stating that they are not professing Buddhists, Christians, etc., as above, or that being Hindu, Buddhist, etc., they will be marrying some person outside that community. Where either party is under 21, this declaration must also be signed by the father or guardian except where the party under 21 is a widow. The declaration must be countersigned by Registrar. Marriages contracted under this Act are monogamous and dissolution of such marriages is governed by the Divorce Act 1869. Issue of such marriage will be subject to the laws of consanguinity that governed the parties. Rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs continue except rights to inherit any kind of religious position or status in their community. Succession to property is governed by the Succession Act 1925. A party’s right of adoption ceases on marriage but the party’s father may have the right to adopt where the party to such a marriage was an only son. Other marriages are contracted under the parties’ personal laws. Muslim marriages have been modified by the Family Laws Ordinance 1961 which provides that during the existence of one marriage no further marriage may be contracted by the husband without prior permission of an arbitral commission or any other person so appointed having authority to grant or withhold such permission. No such second marriage is void, however, but the husband may be liable to a fine, or a year’s imprisonment, or both. Muslim women can only marry Muslim men, but Muslim men can also contract marriages with Christian or Jewish women.
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