Compulsory Registration of Marriage

India is a country of diverse religions, customs and rituals. Not one is similar to the other and all of them have to be respected because marriage is sacrosanct to all religions. Therefore the question of uniformity is a difficult one to deal with. Read along to know more about Registration and its problems in India?

Our country India is probably one of the only nations having versatile and numerous diversities. There are various religions, different cultures and ceremonies too. For each special event in a person’s life there is performance of ceremonies as rituals. Among which marriage carries utmost importance. Marriage is seen as one of the sacred ceremonies in each and every religion whereby two persons unite their soul for an eternal period of time. There are also personal enacted laws which specify the condition to recognize a marriage as ‘valid’ with some exceptions referring them to be as part of practice. However, with the trend of modernization, new requirement emerged as a part to have a valid marriage.    

One of such newly emerged requirement is of ‘Compulsory Registration’ as in order to keep the track of person’s data. Nevertheless, foremost it was observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Smt. Seema v. Ashwini Kumar[1] that due to vast nature of the country and variety of customs and rituals, it may not be practical in that sense, as it was intended; and also observed that as per the narration of several instances in states particular, rules regarding such registration are not made compulsory in many States. Thereafter, the Court directed the different State Government three times to frame essential rules for the compulsory registration of marriages regardless of personal law, customs, religion and practices of the indulged parties and subsequently till now, several States are still in process of implementing these directives.

The 270th Law Commission titled ‘Compulsory Registration of Marriages’ recommended the compulsory registration of every marriages as in order to deal with the social and demographicevils such as child marriages, bigamy and gender violence.“Instances of marriage fraud have also come to light in recent times. In the absence of compulsory registration, women are duped into marrying without performance of the conditions of a valid marriage.”[2]From the view point of NRI marriages also, registration of marriages was recommend to be made compulsory so that it will in turn ensure compliance of conditions of a valid marriage, provide proof of marriage and act as a deterrent for bigamous practices.[3]

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Prior to 2017, this registration process was brought by the legislature through Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005[4] which was accordingly later inserted into respective personal laws. Without any mandatory provision or compulsion, registration of marriages in India was made necessary. The power was inclined towards the Central Government for making provisions to register marriages, which had taken place in their respective States or Union Territories. In general trends, due to an increase in the number of matrimonial disputes, the Central Government has made it compulsory for all the states. This was proposed on the basis of standards that states have a better understanding of the social structure and local conditions existing in their region.

This registration is to be registered in the office of Registrar of Marriages. Getting a legal registration certificate will show the concerned marriage as valid under the court of law. It had furthermore advantages such as it prevents polygamy, ensures each and every woman to claim shelter and maintenance in a speedier way and marriage is turn out to be legally authorized and valid in nature with the authority of the court of law. From the Social prospective, the step of compulsory registration had reduce the number of practiced child marriage, as it violates one of the basic essentials of marriage under Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Compulsory marriage registration seems to be the pressing and required need to protect genuine couples as well as to deal strictly with the law breakers.[5] However, the validity of a Hindu Marriage shall not be affected solely on the basis of failure to register.[6]

The compulsory registration of marriage up to extreme level may ensure that the conditions of a valid marriage have been fulfilled. In absence of compulsory registration women can be deceived into marrying which may goes against the conditions of a legal marriage.  During the Registration of Marriage, it is a duty upon Registrar of the Courts to cross checks the basic essentials as enlisted, encroachment of which can turn out the losses a person may confront.

Also read Ceremonies and Their Rigidity in a Hindu Marriage

[1] (2008) 1 SCC 180.

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[2] Point 1.2, 270th Law Commission Report, 2017. Available at: Last Accessed on November 22, 2018.

[3] 219th Law Commission Report, 2009 on Need of Family law legislations for Non-residents of India. (Published on March 30, 2009). Available at: Last Accessed on November 22, 2018.

[4] Later enacted as Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2005. Available at: Last Accessed on November 22, 2018.

[5]Smt. Rubi & Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2015 (3) ADJ 98 : 2015 (2) ALJ 241.

[6] Section 8(5) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. See also Kanagavalli & Ors. v.Saroja, AIR 2002 Mad 73.