June 13, 2021

Registration of Marriage in India

Family Law

Introduction

Hindu marriage appears as a way to set up a relationship among families.  It is a union of individuals as spouses and is identified through habitable continuity. For most people in India, marriage is a one-time occasion in life, which is sanctified and glorified with tons of social approval. Marriage is a social requirement.

After the marriage is solemnized among the bride and the groom, certain necessities should be fulfilled to offer it a legal standing, i.e., to make it legitimate under the legal guidelines accepted in India by registering it.

Importance of registration

Registration of marriage could assist in the higher implementation of already current laws that intends at stopping child marriage. It could additionally aid in casting off practices such as early and pressured marriages.[1] It could help achieve gender fairness and enable women and would likewise verify that the minimum age of marriage is followed. Also, such regulation will take a look at illegal marriage or polygamy and amongst different matters would allow married women to declare their right to stay in the matrimonial home, declare protection, etc., and consequently will be a step-in route of empowerment of women. A registered marriage not just sets up the status of the partner but also permits succession matters.

United Nations has additionally regarded the significance of developing a report of critical events inclusive of birth, death, and marriage. The creation of any such civil registry for residents serves as the reason for making a legal file that might be used to defend and establish the rights of individuals. This also affects the creation of a database that includes important statistics of essential and relevant life events.

Compulsory registration of marriage

The National Commission of Women presented a concrete solution to some of the troubles springing up out of non-registration of marriages through designing a Compulsory Registration of Marriages Bill, 2005.

In 2007 the Committee on Empowerment of Women depended upon the NCW’s Bill determined that regardless of religion, the registration of marriages has to be made obligatory.[2]   The record sheds light on the plight of Indian women whose husbands, in several instances refused to recognize their marriage before contracting a second marriage or abandoning their first wives altogether and denying them maintenance, etc. The Committee, therefore, preferred that the Government shall make registration of all marriages mandatory, making the system simpler, inexpensive, and accessible.

In 2006, the Supreme Court in Seema v. Ashwani Kumar & Ors.[3]  determined that marriages of all individuals who’re residents of India belonging to diverse religions have to be registered compulsorily in their respective States, in which the wedding is solemnized.

The Supreme Court and the High Courts have repeatedly emphasized the need to make registration of marriages obligatory.

In Kanagavalli v. Saroja[4], the Madras High Court highlighted the significance of registration in catering safety to women. It stated that if the registration had been obligatory, punishment for bigamy could be made easy. If a Hindu male contract a second marriage and registers it, at the least the second spouse will have as proof, the report to show that the marriage was registered between her and the man.

In Baljit Kaur & Anr v. State of Punjab & Anr. [5], the Punjab and Haryana High Court reiterated the ratio in the Seema case and opined that making registration of marriage obligatory could lessen the disputes associated with the solemnization of marriages.[6]

According to Section 12 of the Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005[7]:

  1. Every marriage that’s solemnized or contracted between Indian citizens or in cases where one is at least an Indian citizen, performed in the country under any law or custom governing such marriages, the marriage shall be compulsorily registered with the appropriate Registrar of Marriages.
  2. It should also be the duty of both parties in the marriage to take all necessary steps for registration of marriage.

Marriage registration under The Hindu Marriage Act, The Special Marriage Act, and others

In India, a marriage can both be registered below the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The Hindu Marriage act offers for registration of an already solemnized marriage and does now no longer provide for solemnization of a marriage through a Marriage Registrar. However, the Special Marriage Act presents for solemnization of a marriage in addition to registration with the aid of a Marriage Officer. 

The Hindu Marriage Act 1955

Eligibility to Register

According to Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955[8],

(1) This Act applies—

  1. to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,
  2. to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina, or Sikh by religion, and
  3. to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew by religion unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu Law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.

Prerequisites

The essential conditions of a legitimate Hindu Marriage are described under Section 5 and Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Under section five of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, a marriage is legitimate only if each of the parties to the marriage are Hindus.

Whereas, Section 7 offers for Ceremonies to be completed for a Hindu marriage wherein,

  • A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto and
  • Where such rites and ceremonies include the Saptapadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken.

If a marriage is solemnized via way of means of the important conditions and existing legitimate customs it can be registered. The Hindu Marriage Act best offers registration of marriage that has already been solemnized.

Registration of Marriages under section 8

Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 mentions the registration of marriages.

Section 8(1) of the Act empowers the State Government to make guidelines for the cause of registration of marriages.

Section 8(2) of the act presents that a Hindu Marriage shall be compulsorily registered if the State Governments have made guidelines concerning them.

Section 8(3) of the act states that every such guideline made through the State Governments concerning marriage registration will be laid before the State Legislature to offer them legal status.

Section 8(4) of the act states that the Hindu Marriage Register is a public file and it has to be open for inspection at all affordable times (permitting everybody to acquire evidence of marriage), consequently on application it will be given through the Registrar on the charge to him of the prescribed fee. Also, it has to be admissible as proof in a court of law.


The Registrar of Marriage is bound to file the divorce in the register maintained by him on a divorce ordered through a court as held in K.R Sinimol v. The Local Registrar of Marriages (Common), 2018

Procedure

  • The Parties to marriage need to apply to the concerned authority in whose locale marriage is finished or all things considered parties to the marriage are residing.
  • The Application form of the marriage is to be joined by the vital records.
  • Both the parties need to go with their folks or guardians or different witnesses to the office of Marriage Registrar within one month from the date of marriage.
  • The Competent Authority for enrolling marriage is the Registrar/Tehsildar of the locale, where the application has been filled.
  • The enrolment done under the Hindu marriage act doesn’t need any notification; it very well may be done around the same time of filling of application.
  • In certain cases, a certificate likewise must be acquired from the religious institution where marriage is finished.

The Special Marriage Act

The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is accessible to all Indian residents independent of religion and was initially ordered to allow cross-community marriages. Marriages are enlisted under section 15 of the Act by the Marriage Officer specially selected for the reason. Marriage records by all Marriage Officers are occasionally communicated to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. As indicated by this act, no religious ceremonies are essential for a union to be finished.

Procedure

According to Section 16 of The Special Marriage Act, 1954,

  “Procedure for registration.—Upon receipt of an application signed by both the parties to the marriage for the registration of their marriage under this Chapter the Marriage Officer shall give public notice thereof in such manner as may be prescribed and after allowing a period of thirty days for objections and after hearing any objection received within that period, shall, if satisfied that all the conditions mentioned in section 15 are fulfilled, enter a certificate of the marriage in the Marriage Certificate Book in the form specified in the Fifth Schedule, and such certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and by three witnesses.”

The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872

Part IV of the Act (Sections 27-37) contains elaborate arrangements for the enrolment of relationships solemnized by Ministers and Clergymen. There are in this Part discrete registration arrangements for marriages of Christians in general and of Indian or Native Christians. Part V of the Act (Sections 38-59) gives provisions to solemnisation-cum enlistment of marriages straightforwardly by Marriage Registrars designated under the Act. Part VI (Sections 60-65) pertains to marriages of “Indian Christians” and gives guidelines for certification

The Kazis Act 1880

Marriages among the Indian Muslims are solemnized by religious authorities known as the “Kazi”. The Act enables State governments to name Kazis to help Muslims with the solemnization of relationships, and so forth. Section 4 of the Act clarifies that the presence of a State delegated Kazi won’t be required for any marriage. Previously, or immediately following, the “nikah” service the Kazi readies a nikahnama (arrangement containing all terms of agreement of marriage) which gives full subtleties of the parties and is endorsed by the two of them, and by two witnesses. The Kazi confirms the “nikah-nama” by putting his mark and seal on it. These can fill in as verification of marriage with the end goal of registration of Muslim marriages.

The Anand Marriage Act, 1909

This was sanctioned to take into account the registration of marriages among Sikhs. The Act was subsumed under the Special Marriage Act in 1954 and Hindu Marriage Act in 1955. Notwithstanding, it was revised in 2012 to again incorporate the enlistment of marriages of Sikh couples who decided to quit the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

Section 12 of the Act gives that the ministers are needed to intermittently send their records to Marriage Registrars delegated under the Act. A priest who fails to certify a marriage or to send its duplicate to the Marriage Registrar will be blameworthy of an offense culpable with simple detainment up to three months, or with a fine up to 100 rupees, or with both.

The Foreign Marriage Act 1969

This Act was sanctioned to work with the solemnization of civil marriages by Indian residents in foreign nations. The Act lays down that an Indian resident may wed another Indian or a foreigner. Like in the Special Marriage Act 1954, under this Act to solemnization and enlistment of marriages are portions of a similar exchange. The method for solemnization and registration of such marriages is pretty much equivalent to that under the Special Marriage Act 1954.

Documents required for Registration

The records needed to get one’s marriage registered may be marginally different in different states, most continue the same. Delhi Government requests the accompanying reports at the hour of marriage registration according to their official site, the records should be properly endorsed by a Gazetted Officer before submission:

  1. Application form duly signed by both husband and wife.
  2. Documentary evidence of the date of birth of parties (Matriculation Certificate / Passport / Birth Certificate) Minimum age of both parties is 21 years at the time of registration under the Special Marriage Act.
  3. Ration card of husband or wife whose area SDM has been approached for the certificate.
  4. In the case of the Special Marriage Act, documentary evidence regarding stay in Delhi of the parties for more than 30 days (ration card or report from the concerned SHO).
  5. Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage, and nationality.
  6. Two passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph.
  7. Marriage invitation card, if available.
  8. If marriage was solemnized in a religious place, a certificate from the priest is required who solemnized the marriage.
  9. Rs. 100/- in case of Hindu Marriage Act and Rs.150/- in case of Special Marriage Act to be deposited with the cashier of District and the receipt should be attached with the application form.
  10. Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act as the case may be.
  11. Attested copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.
  12. In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage (in case of Hindu Marriage Act).[9]

Effect of not Registering

An unregistered marriage isn’t to be treated as ‘void’ however just a way to encourage registration. There can be small punishments joined to non-registration. This would help in instances when the spouse has been left penniless and a second marriage has been contracted by the other companion, the evidence of the first marriage will be unquestionable and not grant a spouse to surrender his family and maintenance commitments, etc.


[1] See Biswajit Ghosh, “Child Marriage, Society and the Law: A Study in a Rural Context in West Bengal, India” 25(2) International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 199 (2011).

[2] Committee on Empowerment of Women (2006-2007), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs (Fourteenth Lok Sabha) “Twelfth Report on the Plight of Indian Women deserted by NRI Husbands” (Aug. 2007).

[3] 2006 (2) SCC 578.

[4] AIR 2002 Mad 73

[5] (2008) 151 PLR 326

[6] See also Najma v. Registrar General of Marriages & Anr, 2012 (1) KHC 655

[7] http://ncwapps.nic.in/PDFFiles/compMarriageBill.pdf

[8] https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/1560/1/AAA1955____25.pdf

[9] www.delhi.gov.in 

Author: Abhilasha Agarwal (PES University)

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