Link Aadhaar with marriage records: Law Commission suggests Centre
The Law Commission of India has suggested the government could link the registration of marriages with Aadhaar “to achieve universal tracing of records”, apart from recommending their compulsory certification to prevent fraudulent marriages.
Though the observation is not part of the proposed bill that the commission has recommended, the NDA government that has been pro-active in linking Aadhaar with a host of schemes and scholarships might be inclined to seed the 12-digit unique identification number (UID) in marriage records, too.
The government in March mandated taxpayers to link their permanent account numbers (PANs) with Aadhaar to weed out discrepancies in filing tax returns. The push to expand the usage of Aadhaar triggered a torrent of criticism though the government has decided to go ahead with the move.
The panel, in its report submitted to the law ministry on Tuesday evening, has also recommended an amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include marriages to prevent marriage frauds, bigamy, child marriages and desertions of women by their husbands.
Registration of marriages is already mandatory in certain states and Union Territories.
While recommending that registration is legally mandated with a fine for non-compliance within 30 days, the panel has also advised the government against making changes to existing personal laws.
However, it clarified that the proposal wouldn’t impinge on any personal laws.
“Thus, while Bill does not aim at eliminating the diversity of personal laws, or regional differences seeking merely the registration of marriages regardless of the law under which the marriages are recognised or solemnised, it recommends that these various overlapping and contradicting legislations be borne in mind while framing the rules of registration,” the panel said in its report.
The commission suggested that the time limit to register marriage should be restricted to 30 days after which a penalty of Rs 5 per day could be imposed.
If the birth, marriage or death is not registered within the specified time limit, for one year, it could be done only with the written permission of the prescribed authority and after that, only on an order of a first class magistrate, the commission recommended.
“Going forward, the non-registration of a marriage can be linked to property rights like in the case of Goa to ensure better compliance,” a Law Commission official said.
Registering marriages is a necessary reform and in its absence, women, in particular, can become victims of fraud, the commission has said.
“This deprives women of societal recognition and legal security. Such fraudulent marriages are especially on the rise among Non-Resident Indians. Compulsory registration can serve as a means to ensure that conditions of a valid marriage have been performed,” it said in the report.
Referring to repeated judgments by courts emphasising making registration of marriages compulsory to prevent denial of legal marital status to women, the panel observed, “Instances of marriage fraud have also come to light in recent times. In the absence of compulsory registration, women are duped into marrying the without performance of the conditions of a valid marriage.”
In 2006, the Supreme Court in the Ashwani Kumar case observed that marriages of all those who are citizens of India belonging to various religions should be registered compulsorily in their respective states where the marriage is solemnised.
The law panel has asked the government to come up with a simple process to register marriages.
“A simple certificate issued by a religious place can become the basis of registration of a marriage. We have recommended that the village head or sarpanch can be given the authority for such registrations,” a Law Commission official said.
In 2012, the government tabled a bill in Parliament based on the Supreme Court’s observations but it lapsed at the end of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014. The panel suggests that the government enact a similar law.