Many Centuries ago, Christians came to India and settled in this country when East India Company assumed ruling power in India and established its own courts. With the establishment of the Supreme Courts, the Common Law of England was made applicable to India on many subjects including marriage and divorce among the Christian community, on the ground that it was based on the principle of equity, justice and good conscience.

Before the enactment of Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 the law relating to solemnization in India of marriage of persons professing the Christian religion was guided by two British Acts, 14 and 15 Vict. C. 40 and 58 Geo. III C.84 and two Indian Acts, Acts 5 of 1852 and 5 of 1865.

Statement of Objects and Reasons

The law relating to solemnization in India of marriages of persons professing the Christian religion is at present distributed over two English Acts of Parliament and three Acts of the Indian Legislature.

The object of this Bill is to reduce into a smaller compass and simplify the existing law on this subject by the consolidation of the different enactments referred to, and at the same time, to amend the law in those matters in which it has been shown to be defective.

For example, by Act V of 1865 it is provided that marriages between Native Christians shall be valid where the ages of the contracting parties are not less than sixteen and thirteen years respectively, and where they do not stand in relation to each other within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity.

It has been very forcibly represented by the President and several Members of the Bengal Christian Association that this provision of the law works injuriously by freeing the children of Native Christian parents from the control which all other parents can legally exercise over their sons and daughters before the latter have attained their majority.

The Bill requires the consent of the parents or guardians of Native Christian to a marriage between them, where the age of either of the parties about to contract such marriage is less than eighteen years, except in cases in which the minors have been altogether separated from their parents or natural guardians, and by reason of such separation are not proposed subject to their control.

There is also some ambiguity in regard to the provisions of the law respecting the submission of returns, and the disposal of the records of the registration of marriages solemnized between Native Christians.

The Bill lays down distinctly how such marriages are to be recorded in all cases. and provides for the disposal of the record. It also substitutes for the fixed rates of fees in respect of marriages solemnized by or before Marriage Registrars, a power to the Local Government to regulate such fees and their remission; and lastly, extends the Marriage Law to all places within the territories of Native Princes in alliance with Her Majesty, in respect of marriages between British subjects professing the Christian religion.

Act 15 of 1872

The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 (Act 15 of 1872), was enacted on 18th day of July, 1872 to consolidate and amend the law relation to the solemnization in India of the marriages of Christians.

List of Amending Acts and Adaption Orders

  1. The Repealing Act, 1874 (16 0f 1874)
  2. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1891 (2 of 1891)
  3. The Indian Christian Marriage Act (1872), Amendment Act, 1891 (2 of 1891)
  4. The Amending Act, 1891 (12 of 1891)
  5. The Amending Act, 1903 (1 of 1903)
  6. The Indian Christian Marriage (Amendment) Act, 1911 (13 of 1911)
  7. The Devolution Act, 1920 (38 of 1920)
  8. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1928 (18 of 1928)
  9. The Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937
  10. The Repealing Act, 1938 (1 of 1938)
  11. The Independence (Adaptation of Central Acts and Ordinances) Order, 1948
  12. The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950
  13. The Part B States (Laws) Act, 1952(3 of 1951)
  14. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1952 (48 of 1952)
  15. The Union Territories (Laws) Act, 1950 (30 of 1950)as amended by Act 68 of1956
  16. The adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Order, 1956
  17. The Pondicherry (Extension of Laws) Act, 1968 (26 of 1968)
  18. The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment ) Act, 1983 (20 of 1983).