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Marriage Special

  • Date Submitted: 04/29/2012 05:18 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.1 
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Practical problems with the Special Marriages

Coomi Kapoor has a column in today's Indian Express which draws on her experiences to highlight serious problems with the implementation machinery of the Special Marriages Act, as well as the mindset of those who are charged with enforcing it. Her arguments are compelling and the entire piece makes a convincing case for reform. Here are extracts from the piece:

"In a conservative society like ours mixed marriages generally raise hackles and bring out society’s bestial side. Primeval passions are aroused when people are led to believe that one religion is asserting hegemony over another. Every now and then one reads about eloping couples who opt for conversion in order get married, leading to heightened communal tensions. The way it works in our country is that if a marriage has to be solemnised speedily and without red tape, both bride and groom have to be of the same religion. Conversion is an easy way out. At times, for convenience, both even convert to a third religion.

So why don’t couples from different religions apply to get married under the Special Marriage Act 1954, which was specifically drafted with people like them in mind? I am something of an expert on the way the legislation works, having gone through the cumbersome procedure twice for my two daughters, who chose partners from different faiths. Even in the national capital, the act is administered in a manner so that as many obstacles as possible are placed in the way. You either end up hiring a lawyer familiar with the working of the marriage office or muster enough determination, time and patience to go through the lengthy rigmarole.

... ... ... At the marriage offices in Delhi it is usually the clerks who interpret the law since they have been at the desk much longer than the young IAS officers who are additional district magistrates and burdened with numerous other duties, from riot control to elections. The trick in getting your way is...

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