Differences between Hindu Marriage Act,1955 & Special Marriage Act, 1954

Differences between Hindu Marriage Act,1955 & Special Marriage Act, 1954


Marriage is also called as beginning of a new life which is a life long commitment, marriages in India is regarded as a means to establish a relationship between two families rather than two individual,

In India there is not any single legal framework that can govern the whole marriage, there are several marriage laws classified on a religious basis.

The blueprint for personal laws in marriages was introduced by the first governor-general of British India, warren hasting in 1722, but also after the independence, the Indian government have started to follow the same on marriages, because they don’t want to interfere with the religious sentiments of the citizens

The classification of Hindu marriage act and special marriage act

Hindu Marriage Act

Hindu marriages refer to kanyadan, meaning  gifting a girl to the boy by the father with all traditions and customs

Hindu marriage act is an act of parliament of India enacted  in 1955, The main purpose of the act was to amend and to codify the laws relating to marriages among Hindus and others

Section 2 of the Hindu marriage act states that

  • Anyone who is Hindu by birth
  • Anyone who is Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh
  • And anyone who is not Muslim, Christan, jew, and Parsi

Will comes under the Hindu marriage act

The inclusion of the three religions namely, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh with the scope of Hindu is in pursuance of the definition of the term under Article 25[2]{b} of the Indian constitution

  • In Gullipulli Sowria Raj v. Bandaru Pavani, certain conditions have been specified under section 5 of the act by the supreme court for the legitimation of a Hindu marriage which is obligatory to be followed,

The conditions laid down under section 5 of the Act are as follows:

  • There should not be any living spouse to either party at the time of marriage
  • None of the parties should indispose for giving their consent due to unsoundness of mind
  • Inspite of the capability to give the consent of marriage, neither parties suffer from mental disorder to an extent as to be unfit for marriage and unfit to beer children, In R. Lakshmani Narayan v. Santhi, the supreme court held that, in order to hold women as incapable of marriage due to mental illness, proving that she will not entertain a normal married life is necessary.
  • None of the parties has been subjected to repeated attacks of insanity
  • Both the parties should meet the legal age which is 21, for men and 18, for women
  • None of the parties should within the degree of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits for a marriage between the two
  • The parties are not sapindas of each other unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits for a marriage between the two, Here sapindas is a term used the in context of cousin marriages in Hinduism, any person can extend to the third generation in the line of assent through mother and fifth generation in the line of assent through father.


As section 18b of this act states that the penalization of a married couple found guilty of practicing a prohibited relationship, They are supposed to pay a fine of 10,000 or in prison of one month or both.


It is an essential rite called saptapadi or round of seven steps by the couple around the sacred fire, In Reema Aggarwal v.  Anupam, the apex court held that these ceremonies are necessitated to be proved, In Santi Deb Berma v. Kanchan Prava Devi, By overturning the judgment of the high court, the supreme court ruled that saptpadi is an essential ceremony and the absence of evidence to prove it makes the second marriage in case undertaken as not legally valid under the Hindu marriage act, 1955,

Special Marriage Act:

The special marriage act deals with inter-caste and inter-religion marriages, Inter-caste marriage is a marriage between people of two different castes. Love is a beautiful emotion and something like caste, religion should not weigh it up and also the youth should like to marry someone who they like and not by their parents choice, India is a diverse country, means country of many religion, A special law enacted to provide marriages by registration in which there is not any necessity to renounce their religion, The act includes Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists marriages. This act not only applies to Indian citizens but also to Indian nationals who live abroad belonging to different caste and religions.


Marriages under special marriage act, 1954, enables people of two different religious backgrounds to unite in one marriage. Under personal laws, it allows registration of only solemnized marriages but special marriage act provides both solemnization and registration

Conditions for marriages under this act:

  • At the time of the marriage, the age of the bridegroom must be 21, and the age of the bride must be 18
  • Both of the parties should not have any living spouse at the time of marriage
  • The parties should be mentally fit
  • Both the parties should not be subjected to prohibited relationship , which means they should not be related to blood relationship

Get to the concerned marriage officer:

The parties to the intended marriage must notify the marriage officer in whose jurisdiction either of the two parties must live there at least thirty days prior to the notice submitted

Public notice to raise objections:

When the application has been received by the marriage officer then a thirty-day public notice will issue by the officer to raise objection related to non-compliance of the conditions given in section 4 of the act, if the conditions should met and none of the objections were raised  then both parties should be requested to sign the marriage certificate then the marriage is said to be solemnized and registered

The marriage officer is mandated to conduct an inquiry into its validity within 30 days and if the marriage officer finds objection and goes against the marriage then the intended parties may appeal to the District Court within 30 days and if all of the objections are dealt with then the declaration should be signed under the marriage officer by the intending parties and any three witnesses.

Author: Shashank Shekhar,
Lloyd law college, 1st year

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