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The registration of marriages

IN UTTAR Pradesh under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act rules for voluntary registration of traditional marriages were notified in 1973.The couples are permitted to have their marriages registered not only at the time of or soon after marriage but even long after the marriage has taken place.

india Updated: May 08, 2006 00:54 IST
KN Goyal
KN Goyal
None

IN UTTAR Pradesh under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act rules for voluntary registration of traditional marriages were notified in 1973.The couples are permitted to have their marriages registered not only at the time of or soon after marriage but even long after the marriage has taken place.

It is reported to mostly when a husband has already been given a work permit or green card, etc. by a foreign country and subsequently he wants his wife also to join and where the country of migration insists on a proper marriage certificate before accepting her as his wife. Production of any photograph or other evidence of “ Saat Pheras” or any other ceremony is not treated as relevant.

If a marriage is performed under the Special Marriage Act, which applies to all communities alike, the marriage is registered by the marriage registration officer. Under laws enacted by the British all Christian and all Parsi marriages are compulsorily registrable. In Goa, Deman and Diu, under a law enacted by the Portuguese registration of all marriages is compulsory. In several states like Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Meghalaya, voluntary registration of Marriages is possible. In UP Gaon Panchayats are required to maintain registers of marriages like those for births and deaths. There is however no such provision in respect of urban local bodies.

Many men deceive love-lorn girls into sexual relations after making a show of marriage through exchange of garlands in a temple, and later disclaim any such marriage. In many cases of Hindu bigamy the proof of the first or the second marriage is often disputed.

Registration provides at least a rebuttable presentation of a valid marriage.
The National Commission for Women has informed the Supreme Court that it supports compulsory registration of marriages because:

“Such a law would be of critical importance to various women-related issues such as: Prevention of child marriage and to ensure minimum age of marriage.
Prevention of marriages without the consent of the parties.
Check illegal bigamy/ polygamy.

Enabling married women to claim their right to live in the matrimonial house, maintenance, etc.

Enabling widows to claim their inheritance rights and other benefits and privileges, which they are entitled to after the death of their husband.
Deterring men from deserting women after marriage.

Deterring parents/ guardians from selling daughters/ young girls to any person including a foreigner, under the garb of marriage.”

In five States namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal and Andhra Pradesh, there are laws providing for compulsory registration for marriages in all communities.

The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979.It provides for compulsory registration. Government of India, while accepting that it is highly desirable, has expressed its reservation on the ground that:

“It is not practical in a vast country like India with its variety of customs, religions and level of literacy”.

The Supreme Court has now, on February 14, 2006, directed all States and the Central Government to take the following steps:

“(i) The procedure for registration should be notified by respective States within three months from today. This can be done by amending the existing rules, if any, or by framing new rules.

However, objections from members of the public shall be invited before bringing the said rules into force. In this connection due publicity shall be given by the States and the matter shall be kept open for objections for a period of one month from the date of advertisement inviting objections. On the expiry of the said period, the states shall issue appropriate notification bringing the rules into force.

(ii) The officer appointed under the said rules of the states shall be duly authorised to register the marriages. The age, marital status (unmarried, divorcee) shall be clearly stated.

The consequence of non- registration of marriages or for filing false declaration shall also be provided for in the said rules. Needless to add that the object of the said rules shall be to carry out the directions of this court.

(iii) As and when the Central Government enacts a comprehensive statute, the same shall be placed before this court for scrutiny.

(iv) Learned counsel for various states and Union Territories shall ensure that the directions given herein are carried out immediately.”

Has any preparatory exercise been initiated in UP’s Ministry for Justice (which is directly under CM) or in the department for Women’s Welfare or by the State Commission for Women as the deadline expires on May 14, or will it be delayed in the same manner as in the matter of rules etc under the Right to Information Act?

First Published: May 08, 2006 00:54 IST