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Special Marriage Act, 1954 Challenge Dismissed

Special Marriage Act, 1954:

The Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 under which couples seek refuge for inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

  • The petition challenged the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the SMA, calling it violative of the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • It is because these provisions require couples to give notice 30 days before the date of marriage inviting objections from the public.
  • These provisions contravene Article 14 on right to equality as well as Article 15 on prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste and sex as these requirements are absent in personal laws..

Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954:

  • Marriages in India can be registered under the respective personal laws Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Marriage Act, 1954, or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
  • It is the duty of the Judiciary to ensure that the rights of both the husband and wife are protected.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India with provision for civil marriage for people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of religion or faith followed by either party.
  • When a person solemnises marriage under this law, then the marriage is not governed by personal laws but by the Special Marriage Act.
  • Features:
    • Allows people from two different religious backgrounds to come together in the bond of marriage.
    • Lays down the procedure for both solemnization and registration of marriage, where either of the husband or wife or both are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, or Sikhs.
    • Being a secular Act, it plays a key role in liberating individuals from traditional requirements of marriage.