Law protecting Inter-caste and Inter-religion Marriage in India

Marriage is the foundation of a stable family and civilized society. Right to Marry is a component of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This right has been recognized even under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Any two persons of any caste and religion can marry under Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Special Marriage Act cuts across all the barriers of caste, creed, community and religion. It permits any two persons to marry under provisions of the Act without changing their religious or other affiliations. This Act validates and registers inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in India. Two consenting adults can marry under this Act through a civil contract without performing religious rituals.
According to 2011 Census, only 5.8% of Indian Marriages are Inter-caste showing such marriages are still a taboo in Indian society.


Who are governed under Special Marriage Act?

  • Hindus,
  • Muslims,
  • Sikhs,
  • Jains,
  • Buddhists,
  • Christians

are included. The Act applies to Indian nationals and Indian citizens living abroad.

Do you know Government is giving money to inter-caste couples?

The Government of India has come up with Dr. Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration through Inter-Caste Marriages wherein incentive for a legal inter-caste marriage is fixed for Rs. 2.5 Lakhs per marriage. This scheme was launched for 2 years i.e. 2013-14 and 2014-15, which was continued as a regular scheme in 2015. It was revised in 2020.
The Rajasthan government was the first to launch such scheme in 2006 by the name of Dr. Savita Ben Ambedkar Inter-caste Marriage Scheme.
Many other State Governments are also providing with similar schemes wherein inter-caste couple can get incentives and protection from the state. States like Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala , Karnatka, Bihar, Punjab, Tamilnadu, Odisha have come up with inter caste marriage schemes.

Conditions relating to solemnization of special marriage:

Section 4 of special Marriage Act says that a marriage between any two persons irrespective of their caste and religion maybe solemnized under this act if at the time of marriage the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. Neither party has a spouse living ,
2. Neither party-

(i) is incapable of valid consent due to unsoundness of mind ;
(ii) suffering from mental disorder, unfit for marriage and procreation of children ;
(iii) subject to recurrent attacks of insanity.

3. Male has completed age of 21 years and female has completed age of 18 years.
4. Parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship. However if custom of at least one of the parties permit such marriage, such marriage maybe solemnized.
5. If marriage is solemnized in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, parties are citizen of India domiciled in the territory.

Registration of Marriage:

Special Marriage Act allows to legally register a marriage between two people from different religion. Section 15 of the Act provides that parties can register they marriage under section 15 if the conditions are fulfilled.

Can parties belonging to same religion register their marriage under Special Marriage Act?

Both parties belonging to same religion can register their marriage under this Act. In such cases, the provisions of this Act shall apply to them for Marriage, divorce, maintenance and so on.

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