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International Family Law

The leading authority on international family law

30 NOV 2012

India - Tied up in legal knots

Anil Malhotra*

For a Hindu marrying a foreign non-Hindu and seeking permanent settlement abroad, it's rigmarole of legal tangles. Foreign missions deem such marriages registered under the Special Marriage Act invalid. The modalities of conversion are not any easier.

Foreign embassies and diplomatic missions in India decline to process permanent settlement visa applications of local grooms who wish to migrate to foreign jurisdictions after having married a foreign non-Hindu national under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) 1955, and getting the marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954, in India.

The reason for such a refusal by a foreign mission is clear. Only two Hindus by religion can marry under the HMA in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto. Hence, a Hindu by religion cannot solemnise a ceremonial marriage with a non-Hindu in India who does not profess the Hindu faith or religion.

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