General Studies IIndian Society

The Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954

Context: States such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh framing laws that target inter-faith marriage, the procedural requirements of the SMA — such as the need to give prior notice, and allowance for ‘objections’


The original Special Marriage Act was enacted in 1872.

It was moved by an eminent jurist and Legislative Council member named Henry Maine.

It was enacted following a campaign launched in 1860 by Brahmo Samaj, especially Keshab Chandra Sen, for simpler marriage ceremonies.

But it had one problem: it required that two people of different faiths who wish to get married must renounce their respective religions. By 19th century standards, the mere fact that this law paved the way for inter-faith marriages was a good first step.

But its requirement of renouncing one’s religion was not compatible with modern ideas of liberalism, individualism and autonomy of the individual.

So the 1954 law replaced this 1872 Act, and the requirement to renounce one’s religion was removed. Basically, this law was the first step towards a Uniform Civil Code.

Source: The Hindu



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