Delhi High Court: An important question of law relating to the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (hereinafter ‘Act’) has arisen before a Single Judge Bench comprising of JR Midha, J, for adjudication. The issue is whether the parties married under the Act can be permitted to challenge the jurisdiction of the Family Court to entertain and try a petition for dissolution of marriage under the Act.

The facts leading up to the petition were as follows. The petitioner and respondent were married under the Act on 20.08.1998. The respondent filed for divorce under Section 27(1)(a), (b) and (d) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The certificate of marriage was filed by the respondent along with the petition. The petitioner made conflicting statements via written statements corresponding to the fact whether the marriage was solemnized under the Act or some other personal law.

Reiterating the principles of the act, the Court observed that the Act provides a special form of marriage, registration and divorce. The Act being secular and separate from religious law, liberates individuals from traditional communal constraints of marriage. The Court further observed that under the Act, registration of marriage is compulsory and that the registration certificate of the marriage is conclusive evidence of solemnization of marriage under the Act. Therefore, the contention that the marriage in question was not solemnized under the Act cannot be said to be tenable. Therefore, finding that the Family Court has clear jurisdiction to entertain and try the respondent’s petition, dismissed the petition with costs along with an order to expedite the divorce proceedings and to ideally decide the same within one year. [M v. A,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 8005, decided on 23.03.2018]

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