Introduction : Marriage in India is referred to as a holy, religious activity which confers individual rights upon both the male and the female involved in the marriage. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 expressly associates marriage with that of ceremonies under Section 7 of the Act. Section 7(2) of the Act says that it is the ceremony of saptapadi that involves the bride and groom to take seven steps around the sacred fire jointly that makes the marriage complete. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is applicable to all Hindus inclusive of Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh and excludes Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew.
These groups of people are included under the ambit of the Act if the person has been proved to be being governed by the Hindu Law. On the contrary, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, that governs the marriage of Indian nationals in foreign countries without any religious barriers, categorises marriage under the same to be a civil contract by nature.
Marriage registration certificate is an official testimony which states that two people are married. In India, Marriages can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. For both the types of marriages, a marriage registration certificate is the legal testimony that a couple is married. In 2006, the Supreme Court made it compulsory to register the marriage for preserving the women’s rights. Hence, gaining a marriage registration certificate after marriage can have many benefits.
Marriage registration certificate is a vital document while applying for a passport or opening a new bank account with a new surname after the marriage. Also, in case the visa processing or foreign travel, many embassies demand a copy of the marriage registration certificate. Hence, a marriage registration certificate is mandatory as many couples move to abroad after marriage.
Is it mandatory to register marriage in India :
India is a diverse nation being the residence for several religions and groups. Each of them is governed by their own rules and regulations. Further, while the Constitution of India was being framed by our forefathers, they intended to not discuss the very topic of marriage for it was a sensitive issue for the country and its people. Before entering into the very domain of the necessity of registration and the mandatoriness associated with the same, let us first be aware of the fact as to what registration actually is. Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 lays down the element of registration in a Hindu marriage even though it does not make the provision compulsory for parties in a marriage. The section provides five subsections which are elaborated in simple terms below:
Section 8(1) says that as a proof of the Hindu marriages, the State Governments will be granted authorities to make rules which will provide that the parties involved in the marriage have been so in terms with the conditions that are provided by the Hindu marriage Register and along with this the documents that are associated with the marriage should also be kept with the parties for future references.
Section 8(2) provides that it is the responsibility on the part of the State Governments to ensure that the parties to the marriage have abided with the rules that have been provided in Section 8(1) and if there are any signs of contravention by the parties, then it is the State who will charge a fine of twenty-five rupees from the parties.
Section 8(3) says that the rules that have been talked about in Section 8(1) should be provided to the State Legislatures after their formation.
Section 8(4) lays down the duty of the Hindu Marriage Register that is to inspect the marriage in order to have sufficient evidence as to the marriage concerned to prove it to be legal.
Section 8(5) summarises the fact that the validity of the Section will not be affected in any way if the registration of a Hindu marriage does not take place in the course.
For the registration to take place successfully, the presence of both parties associated with the marriage needs to be present. It was in the case of Nishana Mol v. Alappuzha Municipality that the court held that if the registrar of the marriage concerned is hesitant or doubtful about the identities of either one of the parties in the marriage, only then can the registration of marriage take place and will amount to be necessary.
Registration of marriage binds the marriage with all the associated legislatures, in simpler terms the legality of the marriage is determined by its registration. Registration is also a means of protecting the parties in the marriage. The fact that India has been long driven by the patriarchal society with the supremacy of men in every social aspect, cannot be ignored. Subjecting women to feudality, harassment both mental and physical and several other social issues have been the object of marriage in India. If marriage is traditionally viewed, the purpose of marriage is the procreation of children and satisfying the groom as and when he wants.
Although all these grounds can be viewed to be vague and useless while talking about registration, these are the actual reasons for having a provision for registration in India. Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005 was brought about by the Central Government taking into view the necessity for the people of this country to be aware of the social structure and related legislations. The Law Commissioner of India also came up with the suggestion of linking the registration of marriage with that of the Aadhaar identification in order to ensure traceability universally. For the protection of both the parties in the marriage, providing identification to the marriage is necessary that is guaranteed by the registration of the same. This move by the government was welcoming for a lot of communities while many opposed the same.
Discussion as to the usage of The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2012 for the marriage solemnization between two individuals of any religion whatsoever also took place. This bill would have provided women with support if they came across maintenance cases for a certificate of registration has a great value. The marriages that were already registered under the Anand Marriage Act,1909 which is meant for the registration of Sikh marriages were exceptions of the bill. But these discussions came to an end when the fact that unless the government itself makes the registration of marriage compulsory and makes the same access to every citizen across the nation, it was difficult to establish registration to be compulsory for all marriages, arose.
Taking into view the conditions of women who are suffering from their married life because of ill habits of husbands, marital distress etc the Supreme Court ruled out that irrespective of any religion the parties to marriage belong, the registration for any marriage will be held to be mandatory and compulsory in nature. The apex court also took to view that until respective State Governments will be able to promulgate separate legislations or bring in satisfying amendments in the existing registration, the rule passed by the court is to be followed without any kind of unnecessary hesitations.
The need for registering of marriage in India :
In India, the two legislation that governs marriages are:
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
The Special Marriage Act, 1954
The registration procedure is inclusive of certain requirements that the party should carry on which are provided below:
The application form concerning the registration for marriage needs to be provided to the sub-divisional magistrate provided the same is inclusive of the initials of both the parties.
Documentary evidence in the form of birth certificate, passport, matriculation certificate is required to be presented by both the parties.
At the time of registering the marriage in a court of law, both the parties should have an age of 21 years for it is the minimum limit of valid age that should be acquired to be married legally.
Passport size photographs of both the parties need to be provided as well.
If the parties are supposed to be registered under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, documentary evidence regarding the place of residence for the parties are required.
Deposition of fees is also required to the Register for the registration of the marriage. An amount of Rs. 100 needs to be provided in case the marriage is about to be registered under The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 whereas an amount of Rs 150 needs to be deposited if the marriage is to be registered under the Special Marriages Act, 1954.
The registration of the application of the marriage should be carried out within a period of 15 days of the marriage solemnization. This was observed in the case of P. Remesh Kumar v. Secy.,Kannapuram Grama Panchayat. A thing that needs to be kept in notice that not many people are aware of the requirements as provided above which are necessary for the registration of their marriage. It often happens the role of the woman in a marriage is modest compared to that of the husband. Thus the process of registration is hindered by convergent misogynistic thoughts.
Importance : The impotance of registration of marriages lies on the necessities discussed above . It provide legal sanctity to the marriage, where a Government certificate is issued to the married couple, which is undoubtedly a valuable piece of evidence of marriage.
By virtue of this legal document unscrupulous husbands cannot be able to escape liability of maintenance to their wives, whom they do not consider to be their ones. In bigamous relationships, women are the primary victims at the hands of their husbands.
There are umpteen cases when wives have lost their case because of their inability to prove their first or second marriage of their husbands.
Besides providing security to both partners, registering your wedding also makes things a lot smoother in a country where rules are prone to change. It helps couples to travel abroad on a spouse visa, and a marriage certificate is obligatory when applying for a residency in a different country. For couples who plan to buy a joint property or apply for a home loan, a marriage certificate is one of the mandatory documents required by a bank or lending authority.
Further, the registration of marriage will also ensure to curb the menace of child marriage with these objectives in mind, the Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2006, though it could not be culminated into becoming a law.
Procedure Of Marriage Registration :
The couple has to fill out the marriage application form backed by necessary documents that show:– Age of the couple.
– Proof of residence (Aadhar Card, Voter ID, Ration Card or Driving License).
– An affidavit stating the place and date of marriage, marital status at the time of marriage, and the date of birth of both parties with their nationalities.
– Two-three passport sized photographs.
– A copy of divorce order in case of a divorcee, and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.
– A signed certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage.
– Certificate of conversion, if applicable– Marriage invitation card, if available
– Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per the Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act.The form should be signed by both the bride and groom by providing a fee of Rs 500-1000 depending from state to state. A Gazetted Officer then attests all the documents. Apart from all this, the first condition is that both parties must have given free consent that means both the partners should not be of unsound mind or be forced to take the decision.After due verification of all the documents that have been submitted by the couple, a date is fixed for the registration which is approximately 15 days later under the Hindu Marriage Act, and 60 days later under the Special Marriage Act. On the day of the appointment, the couple have to be physically present before the Marriage Registrar along with the Gazetted Officer, three witnesses and their documents.
Registering one’s marriage is now common among Indian couples today than earlier days. But it is still not a norm to many couples. Our country does not values marriage certificates because our culture have a vast number of rituals. These rituals varies from place to place and families to families. Even the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, recognizes customary or ritualistic marriages as legitimate. If the customary or ritualistic marriages are not registered with a state body, it becomes tougher for spouses. The Law Commission’s Report of July 2017, to the law ministry recommends to make marriage registration compulsory for couples of all communities across the country within 30 days of the wedding, proposing a fine of Rs. 5 per day for any delays after that . The National Commission for Women has pointed out that registration of marriage has critical importance to various women related issues, such as prevention of child marriage, bigamy, maintenance to wives etc. It is explicitly laid down in the Act that non-registration does not affect the validity of marriage, thus marriage can be valid without registration