Kerala Christian Marriage Act, 2008

THE KERALA CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE BILL

A Bill

 to provide, amend and codify the law relating to marriage of persons professing Christian Religion in the State and for matters connected therewith;

             Preamble.—WHEREAS, it is expedient to consolidate, amend and codify the law relating to marriage of persons professing Christian Religion in the State and for matters connected therewith;

            BE it enacted in the Fifty-nineth year of the Republic of India as follows:-

1. Short title and commencement.(1)  This Act may be called the Kerala Christian Marriage Act, 2008.

(2)  It extends to the whole State of Kerala.

(3)  It applies to Christians domiciled in Kerala.

(4)  It shall come into force at once.

            2.  Definitions. —In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,–

(a)  “Christian” means a person who professes the Christian Religion.

(b)  “Church” is a denomination of Christians following the Christian Religion and having a distinct name and organization.

            (c)        “Church building” includes any chapel or any other place generally used for public worship.

            (d)       “District” in relation to a Marriage Registrar means the revenue District from which he is appointed as such under this Act.

            (e)       “District Court” means the principal civil court of original jurisdiction and includes any other civil court which may be specified by the State Government by notification in the Official Gazette as having jurisdiction in respect of the matters dealt with in this Act.

            (f)  “Licensed Minister” means a Christian licensed under section 8 to solemnize marriage under this Act.

            (g)  “Marriage Registrar” means a Marriage Registrar appointed under section 9 or a Magistrate specified in section 10 of this Act.

            (h)       “Minister of a Church” means a Minister ordained as per the rules of the Church.

            (i)  “Prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act.

            (j)  “Prohibited relationship” means the relationship between a man and any of the persons mentioned in part I of the Schedule of the Act and a woman and any of the persons mentioned in part II of the said Schedule.

            (k)  “Rule of a Church” includes the rite, ceremony or a custom of that church.

            (l)  “Custom” or “Usage” means any rule which having been continuously and uniformly observed for a long time has obtained the force of law among Christians in any local area.

            3.  Marriage of Christians solemnized according to Act. —Marriage   between persons one or both of whom is or are a Christian or Christians may be solemnized in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

4. Conditions of marriage.—A marriage may be solemnized under this Act if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:-

            (i)  Neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;

            (ii) At the time of marriage, neither party,–

(a)    is incapable of giving a valid consent to the marriage;

(b)    Though capable of giving a valid consent during lucid intervals but has been suffering from mental disorder of such kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage.

(iii)         The bridegroom has completed the age of twentyone years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage.

(iv)         The parties are not within the degree of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage or rule of the Church governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.

5. Marriage Registrars authorized to solemnise marriage.—Marriage may be solemnized under this Act,–

(i)            By any Minister of a Church; or

(ii)          By the Government under section 8 a Marriage Registrar appointed under this Act; or

(iii)         By any person licensed by the Government under Section 8 to solemnize marriage according to the rites, ceremonies and rules of the Church of which he is a Member.

6. Time for solemnizing marriage. —Every marriage under this Act shall be solemnized between 6 A.M and 7 P.M on any day, unless otherwise permitted by the controlling authority of the Church where the marriage is proposed to be solemnized.

            7. Place of solemnizing marriage. —The marriage under this Act shall be solemnized in the Church as decided by the parties to the marriage with the permission of the Minister of the Church or in a place where parties to the marriage generally assemble for worship.

            Provided that the marriage may be solemnized at a place other than the above with the permission of the controlling authority of the Church where the parties to the marriage are members.

          8.  Licensed Ministers. —The State Government may by notification in the gazette grant license to any person to solemnize marriage according to the rites, ceremonies and rules of the Church of which he is a Member as may be specified in the notification.

            9.  Marriage Registrars. —The State Government may appoint one or more Christians, either by name or as holding any office for the time being to be marriage Registrars for such area as may be specified in the notification.

            10. Magistrate to act as Marriage Registrars. —When the Registrar appointed by the Government is absent for any reasons whatsoever or when his office is temporarily vacant, the District Magistrate shall act as Marriage Registrar.

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            11.  Solemnisation of Marriages by Minister of a Church. —(1)  Marriage may be solemnized under this Act by any of the persons referred to in Section 4 of the Act in the presence of at least two witnesses:

            Provided that no such marriage shall be solemnized unless the Minister has reason to believe that the solemnization of the intended marriage would be contrary to the provisions of section 4 and the marriage is not against any rule of the Church to which the Minister belongs.

(2)   Before solemnization of the marriage, the parties to the marriage shall file a solemn declaration in the Form as may be prescribed.

            12. Notice of intended marriage to the licensed Minister or the Marriage Registrar. —When the marriage is intended to be solemnized by a licensed Minister or by or in the presence of Marriage Registrar the parties to the marriage shall give notice in the form as may be prescribed to the licensed Minister whom they desire to solemnize the marriage or to the Marriage Registrar of the District in which at least one of the parties to the marriage and or their parents or any of the parents has  resided or domiciled for a period of thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.

            13. Marriage Notice Book. —(1)  The Marriage Registrar shall immediately on receipt of a notice under section 12, enter a true copy of such notice in a register in the form as may be prescribed.

            (2)  Register maintained under sub-section (1) shall be open for inspection at reasonable time without fee by any person desirous of inspecting the same.

            14.  Procedure on receipt of Notice by the Marriage Registrar.—(1) On receipt of a notice under section 12, the Marriage Registrar shall, if the parties to the intended marriage desire it be solemnized in a particular Church and if the licensed Minister is entitled to officiate therein, he shall cause the notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof in the Notice Board of the Church.

            (2)       In case the Marriage is intended to be solemnized in a private building or in any other place, the Marriage Registrar shall forward a copy of the notice to the Marriage Registrar of the District who shall cause it be published by affixing it in the notice board of his office.

            15.  Procedure on receipt of Notice by the Marriage Registrar.—(1)  On receipt of a notice under section 12, the Marriage Registrar shall cause the notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof in the notice board of his office.

            (2)  In cases where either or both of parties to the intended marriage are not permanently residing within the local limits of the District of the Marriage Registrar, the Marriage Registrar shall also cause a copy of such notice to be transmitted to the Marriage Registrar of the district within whose limits such party or parties are permanently residing and the Marriage Registrar shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed in the notice board of his office.  Notice shall also be published in one English and one Malayalam dailies having wide circulation in the area where the parties to the marriage hails from.  The expenses for such publication shall be met by the parties to the marriage.

16. Issue of Certificate of Notice.—(1) Any Marriage Registrar consenting or intending to solemnize any marriage under this Act shall, or being required to do so by or on behalf of the persons by whom the notice was given, issue under his hand a certificate of notice in the form as may be prescribed.

(2)  Certificate of notice under sub-section (1) shall be issued only after the expiration of seven days from the date of publication of the notice.

17. Objection to the Notice to marriage.—(1)  Any person may, before the expiry of seven days from the date on which the notice has been published under section 14 or section 15, file objection in writing to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in section 4.

(2)  The Marriage Registrar shall, on receipt of objection under sub-section (1) enquire into the objection after giving the parties an opportunity to be heard and take a decision on it as expeditiously as possible but not later than 30 days from the date of receipt of the objection.

(3)  If it appears to the Marriage Registrar, that the objection made to an intended marriage is not reasonable and has not been made in good faith he may impose on the person objecting costs by way of compensation not exceeding fifty thousand rupees and award the whole or any part thereof to the parties to the intended marriage and any order so made may be executed in the same manner as a decree passed by the District Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the Marriage Registrar has his office.

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18.  Appeal.—(1)  If the Marriage Registrar uphold an objection to an intended marriage or refuses to issue certificate of notice of marriage, either of the parties to the intended marriage may, within a period of thirty days from the date of such refusal, appeal to the District Court.

(2)  The District Court may examine the allegations of the petition in a summary manner and take a decision after giving an opportunity to the parties to be heard.

(3)  The decision of the District Court under sub-section (2) shall be final.

19. Solemnization of marriage.—(1) After the issue of the certificate of notice by the Marriage Registrar, the Marriage may be solemnized between the persons therein described if there is either no objection under section 17 or where the objection is rejected; according to such form and ceremony as the parties choose to adopt.

(2)  Before the marriage is solemnized the parties and two witnesses shall in the presence of the Marriage Registrar sign a declaration as prescribed and the declaration shall be countersigned by the Marriage Registrar.

(3)  The marriage shall be complete after each party make the following declarations, namely:-

I.  I, (name) do hereby solemnly declare that there are no legal impediments for not joining in matrimony with. (Name of the other party).

II. I, (name) call upon these persons present here to witness that I (name) do take (name of the other party) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.

4.  The Marriage Registrar shall, before solemnization of the Marriage satisfy himself that the parties to the Marriage understand the true effect and input of the notice and declaration made at the marriage.

20. Entries made in the Notice Book, void if marriage not solemnized within three months.—If marriage is not solemnized within three months after the date of making entries in the Notice Book by the Marriage Registrar under section 13, such proceedings shall be void and no person shall proceed to solemnize the said marriage until new notice is given and the certificate thereof issued in the manner prescribed therein.

provided that the time taken by District Court in appeal under section 18 shall be excluded for computing the period of thirty days.

21.  Certificate of marriage and marriage certificate book.—(1) When the marriage has been solemnized by the Marriage Registrar he shall enter a certificate thereof in the form as prescribed or in the form if any prescribed by the Church to be called the marriage certificate book.

(2)  The entry in marriage certificate book shall be signed by parties to the marriage and two witnesses.

22.  Certificate of marriage to be conclusive proof.—On a certificate being entered in the Marriage Certificate book, the certificate shall be deemed to be conclusive proof of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized.

23.  Registration of marriages.—(1) Every Marriage Registrar shall send within 30 days of the solemnization of the marriage to the Local Registrar of Marriages.

(2)  The local Registrar shall thereupon register the marriage in the Marriage Register maintained by him.

24.  Grant of certificate by the Marriage Registrar.—The Marriage Registrar appointed by the Government under the Kerala Registration of Marriage (Common) Rules, 2008 shall on application in such form and on payment of such fees as may be prescribed grant the certificate of marriage in such form as may be prescribed.

25.  Penalties.—(1) whoever knowingly and willfully.—

            (i)      Refuses to enter the notice of marriage in the register;

(ii)      Refuses or neglects to publish the notice in the notice board;

(iii)      Refuses to grant certificate of notice;

(iv)         Refuses to solemnize the marriage;

(v)          Solemnize the marriage after the expiry of three months of notice of marriage;

(vi)         Solemnize a marriage forbidden by law

may be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine of rupees ten thousand or with both.

            (2) Whoever, being bound to perform the duties imposed on him under the provisions as this Act, without just cause, refuse, or willfully neglects or omits to perform any of the duties so imposed on him shall be punished with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.

26.  Correction of errors.—(1) Every person charged with the registration of any marriage finds any error in the form or substance of any entry in any register may correct the error by entry in the margin, without any alteration in the original entry.

            (2)  The authority making such corrections shall sign the marginal entry with date.

            (3)  Any suo moto correction made by him shall be made only after notice to the parties to the marriage.

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            27. Validity of other mode of marriage.—Nothing contained in this Act shall affect the validity of any marriage not solemnized under the provisions of this Act nor shall affect the validity of any other mode of contracting or solemnizing marriage among Christians.

            28.  Power to make rules.—(1) Government may by notification in the Gazette make rules, either prospectively or retrospectively for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this Act.

            (2)  Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:-

(a)  The duties and powers of marriage officers and the areas of their jurisdiction.

                        (b)  The manner of conducting enquiry under the Act

(c)  The form and manner in which any books and register required under this Act to be maintained

                        (d)  The fees that may be levied under the Act

                        (e)  The manner in which notice shall be published

                        (f) Any other matter which may be or required to be prescribed

            (3)  Every rule made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as  may be after it is made, before the Legislative Assembly, while it in session, for a total period of fourteen days, which may be comprised in one session or in two successive sessions and if, before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or the session immediately following, the Legislative Assembly makes any modification in the rule or decides that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be, so however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.

            29.  Repeal and saving.—The Cochin Christian Civil Marriage Act, 1095 (Act V of 1095) is hereby repealed and the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 (Central Act 15 of 1872) shall cease to be in force in the Malabar district referred to in sub section (2) of section 5 of the States Reorganization Act, 1956 (Central Act 37 of 1956)

            Provided that such repeal or cessation shall not effect,–

(a)    The previous operation of the said enactment or anything duly done or suffered thereunder;

            (b)  Any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under the said enactment;

            (c)  Any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against the said enactment; or

            (d)  Any investigation, legal proceedings or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid, and any such investigation, legal proceedings or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if this Act has not been passed.

SCHEDULE

DEGREE OF PROHIBITED RELATIONSHIP

Part I

  1. Mother
  2. Father’s widow (step mother)
  3. Mother’s mother
  4. Mother’s father’s widow (step great grandmother)
  5. Mother’s mother’s mother
  6. Mother’s mother’s father’s widow (step great grandmother)
  7. Mother’s father’s mother
  8. Mother’s father’s widow (step great grandmother)
  9. Father’s mother
  10. Father’s father’s widow (step grandmother)
  11. Father’s mother’s mother
  12. Father’s mother’s father’s widow (step grandmother)
  13. Father’s father’s mother
  14. Father’s father’s father’s widow (step great grandmother)
  15. Daughter
  16. Son’s widow
  17. Daughter’s daughter
  18. Daughter’s son’s widow
  19. Son’s daughter
  20. Son’s son’s widow
  21. Daughter’s daughter’s daughter
  22. Daughter’s daughter’s son’s widow
  23. Daughter’s son’s son’s daughter
  24. Daughter’s son’s son’s widow
  25. Son’s daughter’s daughter
  26. Son’s daughter’s son’s widow
  27. Son’s son’s daughter
  28. Son’s son’s son’s widow
  29. Sister
  30. Sister’s daughter
  31. Brother’s daughter
  32. Mother’s sister
  33. Father’s sister
  34. Father’s brother’s daughter
  35. Father’s sister’s daughter
  36. Mother’s sister’s daughter
  37. Mother’s brother’s daughter
  38. Wife’s mother
  39. Wife’s father’s mother
  40. Wife’s mother’s mother

 

Explanation: – For the purpose of this part, the expression ‘Widow’ includes a divorced wife.

Part II

  1. Father
  2. Mother’s husband (step-father)
  3. Father’s father
  4. Father’s mother’s father
  5. Father’s father’s father
  6. Father’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
  7. Father’s mother’s father
  8. Father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
  9.  Mother’s father
  10. Mother’s mother’s husband (step-grandfather)
  11. Mother’s father’s father
  12. Mother’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
  13. Mother’s mother’s father
  14. Mother’s mother’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
  15. Son
  16. Daughter’s husband
  17. Son’s son
  18. Son’s daughter’s husband

 

Statement of Objects and Reasons

 

The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 provides for the solemnization of marriage of Christians.  Applicability of the Act extends to whole of India except to the territories of erstwhile Travancore Cochin States, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.  Therefore the Act is applicable to the erstwhile Malabar area of the State.

            2. Cochin Christian Civil marriage Act, 1095 is applicable to solemnization of marriage of Christians in the erstwhile Cochin area of the State.  But there are no similar enactments applicable to erstwhile Travancore area.  So Government has decided to enact a law for the solemnization of marriage of Christians applicable to the whole of State.

            3. This Bill is intended to achieve the above object.

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