India is a diverse country that is home to a wide range of religions and ethnic groups. Individuals are governed by their own set of rules and regulations. Furthermore, the drafters of the Indian Constitution intended to avoid discussing the subject of marriage because it was a sensitive issue for the country and its people. Marriage registration is not required in Hindu marriages, except in states where an obligatory marriage registration statute has been approved, such as Uttar Pradesh. Individuals who have married but have not registered their marriage are subject to a penalty, which is levied at a reduced rate. Marriage registration is required for Muslims, Christians, and Parsi in one way or another. In India, a religious marriage ceremony is considered a legal marriage. Obtaining a formal registration certificate, on the other hand, will confirm your marriage as authentic in a court of law.
Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005
With no legal requirement for marriage registration in India, the Central Government has authorized the states to establish provisions to register all marriages that occur in their States/Union Territories or elsewhere. To protect women from harassment, all weddings, regardless of their form, should be registered. Women are harmed by the non-registration of marriages, making them victims of bigamous unions. Property problems might occur in the absence of a marriage certificate since a couple may not have proof of marriage in the eyes of the law.
As a result of such incidents, the Central Government has mandated that all Indian states make birth registration mandatory, as well as for states to pass mandatory registration of marriages. This was proposed based on the criterion that states have a better awareness of the social structure and local conditions in their states.
Procedure for Registration of Marriage
Step 1- File a Notice of Intended Marriage in the prescribed form with the Marriage Registrar in the district where at least one of the parties to the marriage has domiciled for at least 30 days promptly before the date on which such notice is issued.
Step 2- The Registrar of Marriage then publishes/posts the notice, seeking any objections.
Step 3- The marriage may be solemnized once a period of 30 days has passed from the day on which the notice of intended marriage was issued unless any individual opposes it.
Step 4- The marriage can be solemnized at the marriage office designated by the couple.
Step 5- On the day of registration/solemnization, both parties, as well as three witnesses, must be present.
Advantages of a Registered Marriage
Marriage is a significant turning point in our lives. A legally married couple whose marriage has been registered in court has several advantages. A few of them are:
- Ensuring Legal Rights– The legal right to marry is established by registering the marriage. An individual cannot exercise this basic right if he/she doesn’t have a legally registered marriage. Domestic violence, exploitation, and abuse are common among women. To protect her legal rights. One shall always register his/her marriage.
- Job Benefits- Insurance benefits can be obtained through the employer of a lawfully married couple. An individual can also utilize his/her right to family leave, to care for your spouse while he or she is ill. They have the right to receive income, workers’ compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse, according to the law
- Medical Rights– A legal union gives the couple the right to see their spouse in the intensive care unit of a hospital or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of the medical facility. In addition, if any spouse becomes unconscious and unable to communicate treatment preferences, the other one is responsible for making any medical decisions.
Consequences and Penalties of a non registered Marriage
A marriage that is not registered is a loss for the persons involved in the marriage. The marriage only becomes legal and recognized in the eyes of the law once it is registered. The following are some of the most common societal challenges that affect women if the marriage is not registered:
- Child Marriage
- Marital Rape
- Domestic violence
- Existence of Polygamy
- Marriage is not documented and recorded legally
The legal privileges associated with marriage cannot be accessed until and until the marriage between two persons is registered. Since registration is now a required component of marriage in several states, there are particular consequences for failing to comply with this requirement. A few of them are:
- Any person who tampers with or dishonestly or fraudulently alters the register or any part thereof will be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with a fine of ₹ 5000.
- Any person, who willfully omits or neglects to submit to the Registrar the Memorandum, shall be punished with a fine of ₹ 500.
- Any person who makes or verifies any statement in such Memorandum that is false in any material particular, which he/she knows or has a reason to believe to be false, shall be punished with imprisonment for 2 months and a fine that may extend to ₹ 5000.
In Seema v. Ashwani Kumar,[i] The Supreme Court observed that the issue of marriage registration should be included under the ambit of vital statistics, as stated in Entry 30, List-3 of the Indian Constitution. Marriages of people of any religion across the country should be required to be registered under any statute if the state solemnizes the marriage. As a result of this case, the judiciary has given its approval to the legislature’s proposal to make marriage registration mandatory across the country. In this case, the court stated that different states at the state level should come up with marriage registration legislation.
In Kanagavalli v. Saroja,[ii] The Madras High Court emphasized the need for registration in ensuring women’s safety. It was suggested that if registration was made mandatory, prosecution for bigamy would be simplified. If a Hindu male contracts a bigamous marriage and registers it, the second wife will at least have the certificate as proof that the marriage between her and the man was registered.
In Baljit Kaur & Anr v. State of Punjab & Anr,[iii] The Punjab and Haryana High Court affirmed the decision in the Seema case, stating that making compulsory registration of marriage would lessen conflicts over marriage solemnization.
In S. Balakrishnan Pandiyan v. The Superintendent of Police,[iv] The Madras High Court held that Tamil Nadu Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, is a secular law, and it requires the registration of marriages performed by people of all religious faiths. It was also decided that Registrars in Tamil Nadu can only register marriages without the presence of the parties in extraordinary circumstances, for reasons that must be stated in writing.
In Sushma w/o Hemantrao Bodas v. Malti w/o Madhukar Machile,[v] The Bombay High Court found in favour of a legitimate marriage based on the marriage certificate. The court also stated that marriage registration makes it easier to prove marriage in succession and other issues.
It has long been assumed that registering all marriages in India would be difficult due to the country’s size, population, and enormous diversity of customary forms of marriage. The difficulty of execution, however, does not overshadow the benefits of such legislation. The Registration of Birth and Death Amendment Bill, 2010, should be passed as soon as possible so that a uniform law can be established that makes marriage registration mandatory in all states. To avoid any infraction, a specified amount of punishment can also be applied. Given that Hindus make up the majority of India’s population, it makes sense to register marriages. The Law Commission of India believes that compulsory marriage registration is a necessary reform, and recommends that the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 be amended to include compulsory marriage registration within its ambit so that the existing administrative framework can handle registration.