Did you know that, according to the 2011 census, Indian Christians have the least number of child brides.

How can minors marry under Christian Law?

Last updated on May 26, 2022

Under Christian law, a minor is defined as someone below the age of 21 years, and is not a widow or widower. In case one of the parties intending marriage is a minor, they would require the consent of their father to get married. If the father of the party is not alive, then the consent must be given by their guardian, and if there exists no guardian, by the mother.1 In case none of them are resident in India at the time, no such consent will be needed.1

However, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act makes every marriage involving a child (below 18 years), voidable at the option of the child.2 According to the law, the child can, if they opt to, file a petition to annul the marriage, within two years of attaining the age of majority.3 To learn more on child marriages, read our explainer on Child Marriage’. 

 

Procedure when marriage is performed by a licensed Minister of Religion

Given below is the general procedure followed by the Minister if a minor wants to get married under the law:

  • When a Minister receives a notice for marriage where one of the parties is a minor, they must forward the notice to the Marriage Registrar of the district.4
  • The notice will then be forwarded to the other Marriage Registrars of that district, and will be pasted on a conspicuous place in their offices.5
  • In case a person who has the authority to give consent refuses to do so, they can inform their objection towards the marriage to the concerned Minister, in writing.6 In such a case, no certificate of marriage will be issued by the Minister, unless a satisfactory enquiry has been made by the Minister into the facts.7 Such an objection must be made before the issuance of the certificate of receipt of notice.6
  • In case no objection is raised, the Minister can still wait for 14 days from the date of receiving the notice, before granting a certificate.8
  • Once a certificate is issued, the remaining procedures for performance of the marriage and registration remain the same.

Procedure when marriage is performed by or in the presence of a Marriage Registrar

Given below is the general procedure followed by a Marriage Registrar if a minor wants to get married under the law

  • When a Registrar receives a notice for marriage where one of the parties is a minor, they must forward the notice to the other Marriage Registrars of that district, and the copies of the notice will be pasted on a conspicuous place in their offices.9
  • In case a person who has the authority to give consent refuses to do so, they can inform their objection towards the marriage to the concerned Registrar, in writing.10 In such a case, no certificate of marriage will be issued by the Registrar, unless a satisfactory enquiry has been made by the Registrar.11 Such an objection must be made before the issuance of the certificate of receipt of notice.12
  • In case the person withholding the consent is of unsound mind, or if that person (not being the father) withholds consent unjustly, the parties can approach the Court. Parties who reside in the towns of Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata can directly approach their respective High Courts, while others can approach the District Court for the same.11
  • Moreover, if the Registrar themself has doubts regarding the authority of the person withholding consent, the Registrar can also approach the Court.13
  • In case no objection is raised, the Registrar can still wait for 14 days from the date of receiving the notice, before granting a certificate.14
  • Once the certificate is issued, the procedure for performance of the marriage and registration remains the same.
  1. Section 19, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[][]
  2. Section 3(1), Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.[]
  3. Section 3(3), Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.[]
  4. Section 15, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  5. Section 16, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  6. Section 20, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[][]
  7. Section 21, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  8. Section 22, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  9. Section 39, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  10. Sections 19 & 44, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  11. Section 45, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[][]
  12. Section 44, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  13. Section 48, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]
  14. Section 41, Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872.[]

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What is the procedure for a marriage by a Marriage Registrar?

A marriage performed by a Marriage Registrar has multiple stages, including the issuing of notice, performance and registration of marriage.

What is the procedure for a marriage by a Licensed Minister of Religion?

A marriage performed by a Marriage Registrar has multiple stages, including the issuing of notice, performance and registration of marriage.

Who can get married under Christian Law?

Any two persons who are Christians can marry under Christian law. However, there are some minimum age requirements and prohibited marriages.

Who can perform a Christian Marriage?

The persons who can perform a Christian Marriage include priests, ministers, clergymen of the Church of Scotland, Marriage Registrar, etc.

When and where can a Christian Marriage be performed?

A Christian marriage can only be performed between 6 AM and 7 PM in a church, private dwelling or in the presence of a marriage registrar.

What is the procedure for a marriage by a person licensed to grant marriage certificates?

As per the law, a person licensed to grant Marriage certificates can only certify marriage between two Indian Christians.