Thursday, September 16, 2021

Foreign Marriage Act 1969

 Foreign Marriage Act 1969

In a matrimonial case, both the parties are Christian and Protestants by Faith.The wife is an Indian citizen. And the husband is a citizen of the United Kingdom of England.

While that wife was working in Bahrain (Saudi Arabia) she came into contact with her husband and they married in Bahrain under the Foreign Marriage Act 1969 before the Marriage Officer of Bahrain's Political Agent. And they lived sometime in Bahrain.

Thereafter the husband left for London. At that time the wife was pregnant and her husband promised her to take her back to London. Her husband advised to go back to Secunderabad for her delivery at her parents home. Hence she came back to Secunderabad. After she delivered a baby, her husband came back to India and visited her and the child and left India. Thereafter he did not return. She is not even sure whether he is alive or not, as he is a Deep Sea Diver by profession.

The wife filed a divorce petition at Secunderabad on the grounds of desertion. She is entitled for divorce under Sec.27 of the Special Marriage Act 1954 read with the provisions of the Foreign Marriage Act 1969.

Section 4 of the Foreign Marriage Act 1969 provides that a marriage between parties, one of whom at least is a citizen of India, may be solemnized under the Foreign Marriage Act by or before the Marriage Officer in a foreign country. 

In Bahrain, there is no Indian Marriage Officer as required under Sec.3 of the Foreign Marriage Act 1969, as notified by the Govt of India. Therefore their marriage was performed before the Bahrain Political Agent, as Marriage Officer. 

The question before the Court of Divorce is: whether such Political Agent who conducted the foreign marriage is valid or not?

The High Court held that in view of the deeming provision, the registration absolves the parties proving that the marriage was in fact solemnized in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Marriage Act. Sec.18 of the Foreign Marriage Act undoubtedly applies to all marriages solemnized under the Foreign Marriage Act. 

Hence the High Court has held that it is a valid foreign marriage.


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