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Register all marriages, says SC

The Supreme Court on Monday directed all the states to frame rules for this, irrespective of the couple’s religion, reports Bhadra Sinha.
Hindustan Times | By Bhadra Sinha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2007 03:10 AM IST

In an effort to make the registration of marriages in the country compulsory, the Supreme Court on Monday directed all the states to frame rules for this, irrespective of the couple’s religion.

A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat passed the directions after amicus curae, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, informed the court that the states had erred in framing the law to make marriage registration compulsory because it was binding on Hindus only.

Kumar added that the states had issued notification under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and, therefore, it was not mandatory for the people belonging to other religion to get their marriages registered.

On the amicus curae’s submissions, the bench said: “The law appears to be in variance of the judgement passed in February 2006 where it was held that marriages under any personal law must be compulsorily registered in all the States, where the marriage takes place.”

The bench further directed the states to explain the reasons why they had not made the law binding on non-Hindus as well.

Besides, the bench also granted last chance to five states that have failed to comply with the Supreme Court orders to formulate a law on making marriage registration compulsory.

The five states are Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The Supreme Court had in February 2006 directed compulsory registration of marriages stating it would be a step in the right direction for the prevention of child marriages still prevalent in the country.

After discussing various State specific laws, the bench learnt there was no law to bind couples to get their marriages registered.

Observing that registration of marriages would also avoid the disputes that arise concerning solemnisation of marriages between two persons, the bench had held that it would be great evidentiary value in the matters governing custody of children and their rights.

The court had granted three months time to all the States to enact their laws. It is now monitoring the progress of its directions.

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