The principal motive behind formulation of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (referred to as “The Act”) was to provide for a special form of marriage between two individuals, each belonging to a different community or religion. This Act is also applicable wherein one of the spouses is a foreign national, provided that other one should be an Indian national. All matrimonial facets including divorce are covered under the Special Marriage Act for such marriages. The question that arose by way of an appeal was whether personal laws are applicable to a marriage solemnized under the Act.

In the petition filed by the Husband, it was stated that the marriage, although being registered and solemnized under the Act, was subject to the Muslim Personal Laws as a Nikah ceremony had taken place after the registration of marriage under the Act. The Petitioner further contended that the Wife i.e. the Respondent in the present petition had embraced Islam prior to solemnization of their marriage under the Act. Justice J.R Midha of the Delhi High Court gave its conclusive decision that the Family Court does have the jurisdiction to entertain the petition of the marriage of the Petitioner and the Respondent even though the Nikah ceremonies were conducted post solemnization. The Court further opined that the Certificate of Marriage issued by the Marriage Officer under the Special Marriage Act was conclusive proof of the marriage under the Special Marriage Act, thereby negating the Petitioner’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the Family Court to entertain a petition for divorce.

The Court, while placing reference to the various decisions of the Apex Court, made a summary of principles enunciated in these decisions, one of them being as follows:

The Registration Certificate of the marriage between the parties is conclusive evidence of the fact that their marriage was solemnised under the Special Marriage Act. Therefore, evidence with regard to the fact that their marriage was actually solemn under any other Act at any other time, cannot be allowed. There can be no issue that the Special Marriage Act would apply.”

Accordingly the Petition was rejected with costs of Rs. 50,000/- levied on the Petitioner to be given to the Respondent.


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Judgment: M Vs A