The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, relates to solemnization of marriage of persons professing Christian religion. The Act provides that any marriage solemnized otherwise than in accordance with the Act shall be void.
Solemnization of Christian Marriage
Under Section 5 of the Act Christian marriages can be solemnized by -
A person who has received episcopal ordination,
Any clergyman of the Church of Scotland,
Any Minister of Religion licensed under the Act.
A Marriage Registrar appointed under section 7 of the Act and
Any person licensed under section 9 to grant certificates of marriage.
Marriage under Christian Law is in the nature of contract and hence there should be a free and voluntary consent between the parties. When there is a minor, as defined in the Act, the consent of father or guardian is necessary. Marriage is not permissible between the parties who are within the prohibited degrees of relationship under section 19 of the Act. There is no legal impediment for marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant. By marriage, the husband and wife become one person, i.e., the legal existence of the women is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband.
The law regarding divorce, judicial separation and allied matters is contained in the Indian Divorce Act, 1869. Under section 18 of the Act either spouse can seek divorce on the grounds contained in Section 19 which reads as follows:-
Section 19: Grounds for Decree of Divorce :
1. That the respondent was impotent at the time of marriage and institution of the suit,
2. That the parties are within the prohibited degree of consanguinity or affinity,
3. That either party was a lunatic or idiot at the time or marriage.
4. That the former husband or wife of either party was living at the time of marriage and the said marriage was then in force.
5. Nothing shall affect the jurisdiction of the High court to make decrees of nullity of marriage on the ground that the consent of either party was obtained by force or fraud.
Under Section 10, the wife can seek the marriage be dissolved on the ground:
That her husband exchanged professing Christianity and gone through a form of marriage with another woman,
Bigamy with adultery,
Marriage with another woman with adultery,
Rape, sodomy or bestiality,
Adultery coupled with cruelty and
Adultery coupled with desertion without reasonable cause for two years or more
Under Section 11, in cases of allegations of adultery, the adulterer should be made a party. Pendent alimony may be granted under Section 36 of the Act.