Indian Special Marriages Act and the Christian Marriage Act


What are the differences between the Indian Special Marriages Act and the Christian Marriage Act?

Dear Ranchu,


See these three of the most important marriage acts in India in summary form:

A) The Hindu Marriage Act: The Hindu Marriage Act applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. If one of the parties in the marriage is a non-Hindu, he/she must convert to Hinduism before the marriage ceremony can be performed under this Act. People can register their marriage, but registration is not a legal requirement and failure to register a marriage does not affect the legality of the marriage.

B) The Christian Marriage Act: Under this Act, marriages can be performed by a minister of religion in a church or by a registrar of marriages.

(1) If a minister will perform the ceremony, one of the partners must notify the minister in writing of his/her intention. The usual notice period allows the posting of bans on three successive Sundays, but under certain circumstances the minister can shorten this period. After the ceremony the minister registers the marriage and issues a marriage certificate. (2) If a registrar will perform the marriage, he/she will first post the marriage notice in the registrar's office for one month. After the ceremony is performed in the presence of two witnesses, the registrar issues a marriage certificate.

C) The Special Marriage Act (1954): This Act covers marriages between people of different religions, but people of the same faith can also be married under this Act.

Certain papers must be filed with the marriage registrar, including affidavits (in a prescribed form) by each party that they are single, and certifications from the local police station for each party that they have been resident of that area for at least 30 days. A notice of the intended marriage is published.

Thirty days after publication of the notice, the marriage is solemnized by the marriage registrar in the presence of the bride and groom and three witnesses.

The registrar registers the marriage and issues a marriage certificate.



The very first & most important difference between the Special Marriage Act,1954 & the Christian Marriage Act,1872 is the while the former is Civil Marriage & all matters relating to it Act, the later is Religious marriage relating Act. The marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 can be between any two people irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, nationality etc where as the Marriage under the Christian Marriage Act, 1872 requires at least one of the party to the marriage should be Christian by religion. The issues relating to dissolution of marriage by annulment, divorce, or issues such as judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights, maitenance,custody of children, settlement of issues relating to property etc amongst the parties are all provided under the Special Marriage Act,1954 itself whereas apart from the condition for marriage, qualification of the priest or the marriage officer to solemnize the marriage, registration of marriage,maintainance of register of marriage etc no other issue relating to the issues involving the parties after the process of marriage & its registration under the Act is provided under the Christian Marriage Act,1872., for those issues the parties are supposed to take the help of the Divorce Act,1869 as amended & seek the legal reprisal for all the other issues such as dissolution of marriage by annulment, divorce, or issues such as judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights, maitenance,custody of children, settlement of issues relating to property etc. The most significant difference between these two Acts is that the Special Marriage Act, 1954 was enacted by the Free Indian Parliament/Government whereas the Christian marriage Act, 1872 was enacted by British Parliament/Government before the independence of India in the year 1872 for the benefits of Christians' marriage living in India.


I agree with Mr. Mahajan.


hi can u give me a  divorce pettion model under christian marriage act,


I also have one case to file petition under Christian Marriage Act, 1872 - pl be quick most urgent


Hello Sir,

I am Vchithra. I would like to know about intercaste marriage. I am a christian and my partner is a Hindu. I would like to get converted to Hindu religion if its required for a marriage to be registered under the Indian Law. Please let us know whether it will be a problem because of this caste/religion difference. Can we ever get married?





I'm a christian and my husband a hindu. We got married at a temple but now would like to register our marriage under the special marriages act/christian marriages act which ever would be more suitable.

We live in delhi since the last 4 years, kindly guide on what we should do to proceed with the registration and the costs involved in doing the same.

Looking forwward to hearing from you soon.




I suggest you to go for Special Marriage Act.  It can be registered from SDM office of your area.  The application form, the details of the documents required to be attached with the application are available on Delhi government web site.  Only Rs.25/- fee has to be paid.  Need not to engage an advocate. 

wish you best of luck.


Thank you for your response!

What if I dont have any letter or document from the temple priest. Will a wedding picture suffice for registration?

Awating your advice on the same.






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