The Allahabad High Court has said that under the special marriage law (which regulates inter-religious marriages), it is not compulsory for the Marriage Officer to publish a notice of a marriage and call for objections to the marriage.
When is the Marriage Officer allowed to publish a marriage notice?
The couple getting married can make a written request to the Marriage Officer to publish or not publish a notice of their marriage. In case they do not make such a request, the Officer should conduct the marriage without publishing the marriage notice or inviting objections to the intended marriage.
Does this mean that the Marriage Officer has no power?
No, irrespective of whether the marriage notice is published, at the time of conducting the marriage, the Marriage Officer can verify the identification, age and valid consent of the couple, and check if they are eligible to get married. The Officer can also ask for appropriate details/proof as per the facts of the case.
What is the consequence of publishing a marriage notice?
After a Marriage Officer publishes the marriage notice, any person can object to the intended marriage if it violates any of the conditions for a valid marriage under the Special Marriage Act. The objection must be made within thirty days of the notice publication.
If an objection is made, the Marriage Officer will not perform the marriage until they have inquired into the objection and are convinced that the marriage can be conducted and registered. The Officer should inquire and make their decision within thirty days of the objection.
If the Officer believes that the objection is unreasonable and not in good faith, they may impose compensation costs of up to Rupees one thousand on the objecting person, and give the compensation to the couple getting married.
What can the couple do if the Marriage Officer upholds the objection?
If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection and refuses to perform the marriage, the couple can appeal to the concerned district court i.e., the court having judicial authority in the district where the Marriage Officer has their office. They should make the appeal within thirty days of the Officer’s refusal. The district court will take the final decision on the appeal, and the Officer will obey the decision of the court.