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How Can You Marry Your Foreign Soul Mate In India, Legally?
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How Can You Marry Your Foreign Soul Mate In India, Legally?

Love Has No Boundaries

Love has no boundaries, it is often said. And this is quite natural. Because love is an emotion that cannot be necessarily restricted to a water-tight geopolitical boundary. Well, is that the case with you? Are you in love with a person who is not an Indian or not an Indian citizen? Are you making plans to marry him/her sometime soon and that too in India? Well, if your life partner to be is from countries like the United States, etc., we can help you know the law which can help you marry him/her in our own country.

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The Special Marriage Act Of India

Well, if you are marrying a person who is a foreign citizen, then such a marriage would fall in the category of the Special Marriage Act. This act is concerned with marriages that take place between couples belonging to different religions, (in some cases) different castes, different backgrounds, and also those who belong to different nationalities. On the other hand, if an Indian citizen intends to marry outside India, then his/her marriage would be considered under Foreign Marriage Act that was passed in the year 1969.

As the legal age for getting married in India is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys, the same rule would apply for marriage with a foreign national, irrespective of whether their country’s local laws mandate a higher or lower age to get married. Besides, the Special Marriage Act, apart from fixing the minimum age for marriage, also restricts the degrees or layers of prohibited relationships like mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, step-grandmothers, etc.

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The Requirements In The Special Marriage Act

While applying and invoking the Special Marriage Act, the Central Information Commission has categorically clarified that if the bride and groom come from different religions and countries, then they have to marry under the Special Act. 1954 because they cannot marry under the personal marital laws.  

A 30-day notice period is required in India if one person is residing in India permanently and the other is residing temporarily in India. Suppose one partner is residing in a foreign country, then the ‘Marriage Notice’ form needs to be filled in by the partner who is in India and also the partner who is in the foreign country. This has to be submitted again by the partner who is in India to the local Registration office

About The Needed Documents, Certificates & Formalities

Before your marriage is undertaken, you have to ensure that the following documents are already there with you:

  • Birth certificates  (to prove the age)
  • An authentic visa of at least thirty days for the foreign national
  • An affidavit of single status signed by both parties. Suppose one of the parties had married earlier, then the Divorce Decree (for the divorcee) or Certificate of Death (for the widower or widow) is needed.
  • Address proof along with passport size photographs
  • Sufficient evidence to prove 30-day residence in India
  • Also a ‘No-Objection’ letter – For example, suppose the US citizen wants to wed in a civil marriage ceremony then he/she may be asked to present a ‘no objection letter’ from the US Embassy or Consulate to the marriage officer, also a proof of that of marriage termination, in case he had married earlier. On similar lines, a citizen of any other foreign country should present a no objection letter from the Embassy or Consulate of his/her country.

Besides, the parties have to wait for a minimum of 30 days, starting from the initial application, so that the marriage officer can publish a notice in the course of the 30 days. This notice may even include a newspaper publication to present an opportunity for anyone to voice his/her objections to the marriage.   

Performance Of Rituals And Ceremonies In Such Marriages

Many people identify an Indian marriage with a lot of rituals like taking rounds around the fire, lots of music, and exchanging garlands, the Court has stated clearly that any couple, irrespective of being Indian, NRI, or a foreigner who wishes to marry in India has to undertake a religious marriage ceremony or the civil marriage ceremony. That holds true even if the marriage is performed under Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, etc.

These religious marriage ceremonies in India are legally valid but they need to be registered compulsorily. Also, marriage registration may not be enough. You may need to present a registration certificate which is adequate proof of a valid marriage.

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Pro Bono Legal Service - Know About Free Legal Services
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Pro Bono Legal Service - Know About Free Legal Services

About Pro Bono Legal Service

'Pro bono legal service implies free legal service by lawyers. In a country like India that is overwhelmed by poor and underprivileged undertrials, pro bono legal services can immensely contribute to the fast disposal of cases and reduce the burden of pendency from the judiciary.

The expression ‘pro bono’ is derived from the Latin expression pro bono public which means ‘for the public good’. The pro bono services' beneficiaries need not pay their lawyers professional fees.. Article 39A of the Constitution directs the State to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of society to facilitate justice based on equal opportunities. Additionally, Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals underlines the obligation of the Member States to ensure equal opportunities of justice to all without discrimination. The concept of pro bono legal consultation was formally given a statutory shape under the Legal Sevices Authority Act, 1987, and the wings of the Legal Services Authority were set up with a three-tier system i.e the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in New Delhi along with State and District Legal Services Authority in each state and districts respectively. The Chief Justice of India is the ex-officio patron-in-chief of NALSA while the second seniormost judge serves as its ex-officio executive chairman.

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Objectives of the Pro Bono Legal Services

The motto of this program is to promote the pro bono culture of legal consultation and it seeks to develop the institutional structure for the same. The program serves dual objectives, firstly, it seeks to address the legal needs of the underprivileged and deprived section of the society, and secondly, it duly acknowledges and recognizes the lawyers who volunteer for this program and invest their time and effort. This initiative aims to expand the accessibility of justice to the last man standing in the queue. This initiative provides a platform for the lawyers to demonstrate their social awareness abilities, enhance their network, promote professional development, and ensure publicity for the volunteer lawyers.

The major objectives include:

  1. Encouraging lawyers and legal professionals to render pro bono legal services for society.
  2. Recognizing and appreciating pro bono legal work by lawyers and legal professionals.
  3. Creation of a database to maintain a bank of lawyers and legal professionals for appropriate positions in the relevant field.

Additionally, the Department has launched a Pro Bono Club Scheme, to strengthen the pro bono scheme, by including law schools and students under its domain. This initiative aims to enhance the quality of pro bono legal services by assisting pro bono advocates by selected law students. The selected law students, known as ‘Pro Bono Associates’ become a part of the Pro Bono Club and the Legal Aid Society of their law school.

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Eligibility to apply for legal help                                  

The government has specifically launched a Nyaya Bandhu Application and this Application serves as a connecting link between the needy and the experts, i.e the Applicants and the Advocates. Any person intending to benefit from the Nyaya Bandhu initiative must be covered under Section 12 of the NALSA Act, 1987. It lays down the eligibility criteria for availing of the benefits of this scheme. Marginalised sections of the society can also avail of free legal aid.

Registration for the Applicants

Any applicant aspiring to become a beneficiary of this scheme and get free legal advice can register themselves on the UMANG portal, Nyaya Bandhu App, or the Nyaya Bandhu web portal. The Applicants need to complete their profile and add the relevant details of their case on the portal. Once the details of the case are uploaded, any advocate from the database is randomly allotted that case, subject to the satisfaction of two parameters, first, the area of practice of the advocate and the jurisdiction in which the case is pending or is to be heard.

Thereafter, the Applicant is, either navigated to ‘Assign Advocate’ page with a list of advocates shortlisted as per the case details, or sometimes, the Applicant is directly notified that an advocate will be assigned to the case by the Department itself. When an advocate accepts a case, that case shifts to ‘Ongoing Cases’. It also facilitates the exchange of information between the Applicant and the Advocate. Lastly, the Advocate can mark the case as closed if he is satisfied with the court's final judgment.

Eligibility for lawyers and legal professionals to register for the service

The lawyers and advocates intending to provide pro bono services must be enrolled with any Bar Council of the country. He/She must be a practicing advocate. This scheme does not create any age limit for the advocates willing to contribute and enrich the pro bono culture in the legal practice. However, advocates aged 44-54 years are provided the opportunity to serve in different capacities for which they need to provide additional details.

The advocates must be registered with ‘Service Plus’, a government portal, and have a ‘Service Plus’ ID. The lawyers must log in through their ‘Service Plus’ ID, register themselves, and create their profile for pro bono services by furnishing the required details. The registered advocates are then included in the database and are notified of any requirement when requested by the registered Applicants.

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Is Cryptocurrencies Legal in India? All You Need To Know
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Is Cryptocurrencies Legal in India? All You Need To Know

India has recently been one of the fastest-growing centres for expanding cryptocurrencies. Given that cryptocurrency, though still heavily debated, has become a part of everyday life and no longer a niche, exclusive concept it used to be, it is very useful to know the basics of cryptocurrency and the laws relating to it in India.

What is Cryptocurrency?

The word ‘cryptocurrency’ comes from its usage, as it uses encryption for security of the verification of transactions. It is a decentralized digital payment system that does not work through banks to verify transactions. Instead, it’s peer-to-peer system allows anyone to send or receive payments from anywhere. It also differs from physical currency to be a fully digitized entry in an online database. All transactions are recorded in a public ledger and the actual currency is kept in digital wallets. Unlike centralized currency such as rupee or dollar, the value of a cryptocurrency is actually mandated through the cryptocurrency users on a digital space itself. The first cryptocurrency to be introduced was Bitcoin, but numerous other platforms and tokens have come into existence for people to trade in. Even though it is a very widely attracting system, it has its own risks and problems which one should be well versed with before stepping into the market.

In India, it was first assumed that majority of the cryptocurrency users were from a niche section of the society, but it has since been found that it is now being traded all across the country, even small cities. This really gives perspective on the grip that India is under for cryptocurrency.

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Cryptocurrency Laws in India

There are no laws regulating cryptocurrency in India, but the Government has shown keen interest in coming up with a set of guidelines and laws to modulate the usage and trade of cryptocurrencies. The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 is still in the works. It permits restriction to promote the technology of cryptocurrencies and the use of the same. Nothing is concrete yet, but from the current sources one can get a outlined idea of what may or may not be allowed once this regulation comes into place.

The operation of these platforms will continue as it was with perhaps authorized regulations and guidelines. The Government has also hinted that the policy it is adapting with regards to cryptocurrency is leaning towards protecting the investors' money, but it might happen that cryptocurrency is classified as an asset than an actual mode of currency. Taxing cryptocurrency has already taken place, as it provides the government a way to generate revenue from the platforms.

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Is Cryptocurrencies Legal in India?

As stated above, India has become one of the fastest growing markets to use cryptocurrency, but it is still not regulated or authorised by the Government. There has been palpable ambiguity regarding the legal validity of cryptocurrencies in India. It is not illegal to trade in cryptocurrency in India, and neither has there been any explicit recognition from the government with regards to their prohibition. Using cryptocurrency as a fiat currency backed by the central government is not permitted in India. Legality of cryptocurrencies is still a slippery slope in India as no clear mandate exists regarding the same.

Recently a 30% tax was introduced on transactions about virtual digital assets. Cryptocurrency being a virtual digital asset would also be subject to this tax. Many surmised that this means that cryptocurrencies would be legalised in the future. However, the government has refuted such claims.

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Will Cryptocurrency be Banned in India?

Will the government ban cryptocurrencies, is another question that is often doing the rounds. In March 2020, the Supreme Court held in Internet and Mobile Association of India v. Reserve Bank of India that the earlier order of RBI banning cryptocurrencies was to be quashed. On the other hand, the government has begun drafting a bill to come up with cryptocurrencies laws, which seems like a green sign for cryptocurrency investors in India. Given that other developed countries are coming up with regulations and laws to govern and regulate cryptocurrencies, it seems that the Indian government may not ban cryptocurrencies. The future of cryptocurrencies is uncertain and the government may devise a middle path.

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