Neeraj Khanal, Panjab University, 3rd year LL.B
Marriage is considered as a sacred institution in Indian culture. It is a bond between the two people whereby they agree to spend rest of their life together. It’s not just about two people getting married, but also about their families becoming one. It’s a happy and important event filled with love and happiness. Marriage establishes a recognized partnership and provides various legal rights and benefits.
MARRIAGE AND ITS REGISTRATION:-
Registration refers to the process of officially recording and documenting something with the relevant authorities. In the context of marriage, registration refers to the legal requirement of formally registering a marriage with the government or authorized body. It involves submitting necessary documents, filling out forms, and completing the required procedures to obtain a marriage certificate. Registration is important as it establishes the legal recognition of the marriage, ensuring that the rights, obligations, and benefits associated with marriage are upheld. It provides proof of the marital status and enables access to various legal and social benefits, such as inheritance rights, insurance coverage, and the ability to make joint decisions as a married couple.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK OF REGISTRATION:-
Currently there are two legislations framed to solve the challenge of marriage registration law in diverse cultures-
Hindu Marriage Act 1955
The Special Marriage Act 1954
Hindu marriage act, deals with the marriage registration in case both husband and wife are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs or where they have converted into any of these religions.
Whereas the Special Marriage Act lays down the procedure for both solemnization and registration of marriage, where either of the husband or wife or both not Hindus, Buddhist, Jains or Sikhs.
REGISTRATION PROVISIONS UNDER HINDU MARRIAGE ACT 1954:-
Section 8 of Hindu Marriage Act 1955, deals with the registration of Hindu marriage even though it does not make the provision compulsory for the parties in marriage.
Section 8 (1): For the purpose of Hindu couples to prove their marriage, the state government may make rules for Hindu couples to record their marriage details in a special register called the Hindu Marriage Register. It helps prove their marriage.
Section 8 (2): If the State Government thinks it’s important, they can make it compulsory for people to record their marriage details in the Hindu Marriage Register. This can apply to the whole state or
specific areas. If someone doesn’t follow this rule, they can be fined up to twenty-five rupees.
Section 8 (3): Any rules created under this section must be presented to the State Legislature as soon as possible after they are made.
Section 8 (4): The “Hindu Marriage Register” shall be open for inspection at any reasonable time. It can be used as evidence for the information recorded in it. If needed, the Registrar can provide certified extracts from the register upon request, with the payment of the required fee.
Section 8 (5): Even if there is no entry made in the register, it does not impact the validity of a Hindu marriage.
REGISTRATION PROVIISONS UNDER SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT:
Chapter III of the Special marriage act 1954, from section 15 to 18 deals with the registration and its process.
Section 15: If a marriage is celebrated in a different way, not under the Special Marriage Act or the current Act, it can still be registered under this Act if certain conditions are met:
The couple must have had a marriage ceremony and have been living together as husband and wife since then.
Neither party should have more than one spouse at the time of registration.
Neither party should be mentally unfit at the time of registration.
Both parties should be at least twenty-one years old.
The couple should not be closely related within the prohibited degrees of relationship, unless there is a law, custom, or tradition that allows their marriage.
The couple should have lived in the same district as the Marriage Officer for at least thirty days before applying for marriage registration.
By meeting these conditions, the couple can register their marriage under this Act, even if it was celebrated differently.
Section 16: After making an application for registration of their marriage under this Chapter, the officer will publish a public notice as prescribed. After a waiting period of thirty days for any objections and considering any objections received during that period, if the officer is convinced that all the conditions mentioned in section 15 are met, they will enter a marriage certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book.
Section 17: If a person is aggrieved (unhappy) with a Marriage Officer’s decision to refuse the registration of a marriage under this Chapter, they can appeal against the order. The appeal must be made to the district court within thirty days from the date of the order. The district court will make the final decision on the appeal. The Marriage Officer must then act according to the decision made by the district court.
Section 18: When a marriage certificate is recorded in the Marriage Certificate Book under this Chapter, the marriage is considered to be solemnized under this Act. Children born after the marriage, whose names are also entered in the book, are legally recognized as the legitimate children of their parents. However, it’s important to note that this recognition does not grant them any rights to the property of others, except for their parents.
IS REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGE IS COMPULSORY IN INDIA:
There is no central uniform Act on registration of marriage, applicable throughout the India. Marriage registration in India is not mandatory, and there are no immediate legal consequences for non-registration. Section 8 (5) of Hindu marriage act 1955, says that the validity of any Hindu Marriage not be affected by the omission to make registration.
But the Supreme Court of India, in the case of Seema v. Ashwani Kumar & Ors. 2006 held that the marriages of all individuals residing in India, regardless of their religion, must be compulsorily registered in the respective states where the wedding ceremony takes place. The apex court provided direction to all the States and UT’s in this regard.
The Madras High Court, in Kanagavalli v. Saroja, highlighted the importance of marriage registration for women’s safety and the prevention of bigamy.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in Baljit Kaur & Anr v. State of Punjab & Anr., echoed the need for compulsory marriage registration to reduce disputes related to marriage solemnization.
Both courts emphasized that mandatory registration provides legal proof and helps protect the rights of individuals involved in the marriage.
IMPORTANCE OF REGISTRATION:-
Registration of marriage holds significant importance as it provides legal recognition and documentation of the marital union. Here are some key reasons why registration of marriage is important:
Legal Validity: Registration ensures the marriage is legally valid and recognized by the government. It provides an official record of the marriage, which is crucial for various legal purposes.
Proof of Marriage: A registered marriage certificate serves as proof of the marital status of the individuals. It can be used for obtaining various documents like passports, visas, and social security benefits.
Protection of Rights: Registration safeguards the rights and interests of both partners. It ensures legal protection in case of any disputes, property rights, inheritance claims, and custody of children.
Social Recognition: Registration gives social recognition to the marriage and helps establish the legitimacy of the relationship in society. It enables couples to participate in social and cultural activities as a married couple.
Access to Benefits: Registered marriages enable couples to avail themselves of various benefits and entitlements provided by the government, such as health insurance, pension schemes, and tax benefits.
Prevention of Fraud: Registration helps in preventing fraudulent marriages and protects individuals from unauthorized or forced marriages. It ensures that marriages are conducted with the consent and knowledge of both parties involved.
PROCEDURE AND REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:-
Step 1: File an application: Obtain the marriage registration application form from the concerned authority or download it from their website. Fill out the form with accurate details of both the bride and groom. It can be done online mode from the official website.
Step 2: Submit the completed application form along with all the required documents:
Proof of age and identity, like a passport, PAN card, driving license, or birth certificate.
Proof of residence, such as a ration card, voter ID, or passport.
Marriage card and Marriage pictures of bride and groom.
Affidavit confirming that both parties were married as per the Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act, and provided details and documents are real and true.
Two or three witnesses along with their identification documents.
Three passport-size photographs of bride and groom, as well as the witnesses.
Decree of divorce (if applicable), in case either party was previously married and divorced.
Step 3: Pay the registration fees: Pay the applicable registration fees as per the rules and regulations of your area. The fee amount may vary depending on the location.
Step 4: Schedule an appointment: Some registration offices require you to book an appointment in advance. If required, schedule an appointment for the marriage registration process.
Note: Check local marriage registration office for specific requirements and procedures. Contact in advance or visit their website for accurate information.
RELIGIOUS VS CIVIL REGISTRATION
Religious registration of marriage refers to the process of officially recording and recognizing a marriage within a specific religious or cultural institution. It acknowledges the sacredness and spiritual significance of the union according to the customs, traditions, and rituals of their faith.
Religious registration often involves elaborate ceremonies and rituals that are conducted by religious officials, such as priests, imams, or pandits, based on the specific religious practices and beliefs. These rituals may include prayers, blessings, exchange of vows, and other sacred rites.
By registering their marriage within their religious community, couples seek validation and acceptance from fellow believers. It allows them to establish their status as a married couple within their faith and gain the support and blessings of their religious peers. In some jurisdictions, religious registration alone may not provide legal recognition. Couples may need to undergo additional civil registration processes to obtain a legally recognized marriage certificate that holds weight in governmental and legal matters.
Civil registration of marriage refers to the official and legal process of registering a marriage with the civil authorities of a country or jurisdiction. It is a legal process that gives your marriage legal recognition. When you register your marriage, you are following the rules and requirements set by the government in your area. You will need to provide certain documents and information, like identification and proof of your marriage. The government keeps a record of your marriage, which is important for legal purposes.
SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND REGISTRATION:-
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in India. The country’s marriage laws define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Consequently, same-sex couples do not have the option to register their marriage under Indian law.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized consensual same-sex relationships by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality.
In 2020, two women in India made history by becoming the first same-sex couple to get married in the country, while their marriage is not legally recognized.
However, it’s important to note that the legal landscape is subject to change, and societal attitudes and laws can evolve over time. There have been on-going discussions and debates regarding the recognition of same-sex relationships in India.
REGISTRAION AND ITS IMPACT ON WOMEN EMPOWERMENT:-
Registration of marriage ensures that women have access to legal rights and remedies in case of disputes or violations within the marriage, such as domestic violence, property rights, and child custody. It offers a formal platform for women to seek legal recourse and protection of their rights.
It establishes a legal relationship between spouses, ensuring that women are entitled to financial support, inheritance rights, and access to marital assets. This can provide women with economic stability and reduce their vulnerability to poverty or financial dependence.
Overall, marriage registration plays a significant role in advancing women’s empowerment by providing legal protection, social and economic security, access to benefits, empowerments within the family.
THE FUTURE PERSPECTIVE OF MARRIAGE AND ITS IMPROVEMENT:-
The future of marriage registration holds potential for further improvement and innovation. Advancements in technology may lead to more efficient and streamlined processes, such as online registration platforms and digital documentation. This can reduce paperwork, minimize errors, and speed up the overall registration process. Additionally, there may be increased efforts to simplify the requirements and procedures, making it more accessible for couples from diverse backgrounds. Public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives may also be implemented to ensure that people understand the importance and benefits of registering their marriages. The focus will be on making marriage registration more convenient, inclusive, and effective in protecting the rights and interests of couples.
Seema vs. Ashwani Kumar: In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that the marriage registration certificate is not a conclusive proof of marriage, but it is an important piece of evidence to establish the marital status of the parties.
Priyanka Gupta vs. State of Uttar Pradesh: This case highlighted the significance of timely registration of marriages and emphasized that delay or non-registration of marriages can lead to complications and denial of rights and benefits to the parties involved.
Harvinder Kaur vs. Harminder Singh: In this case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that a marriage solemnized as per religious customs and rituals is valid even without a marriage registration certificate. The court emphasized that registration is optional and not mandatory for the validity of a marriage.
Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai vs. State of Gujarat: This case emphasized the importance of compulsory registration of marriages, particularly to prevent child marriages. The court directed the government to take necessary steps to ensure the registration of marriages and enforce penalties for non-compliance.
Marriage registration plays a crucial role in legalizing and safeguarding marriages. It provides couples with legal recognition, protection, and access to various rights and benefits. Improvements in registration procedures, such as simplified documentation, online registration options, and increased public awareness, can enhance the efficiency and accessibility of the process. Promoting marriage registration ensures that couples can enjoy the legal and societal advantages associated with a registered marriage, while also strengthening the institution of marriage in society.
1.Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as amended by the personal laws (Amendment) Act, 2019
2.The Special Marriage Act, 1954
3.Family Law – Dr. Paras Diwan – 10th Edition
5.Seema v. Ashwani Kumar & Ors. 2006
6.Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai vs. State of Gujarat 2018
7.Harvinder Kaur vs. Harminder Singh: 1983
8.Priyanka Gupta vs. State of Uttar Pradesh 2021