Report No. 270
Chapter - II
Marriage Registration: A Global Overview
2.1 United Nations has recognised the importance of creating a record of vital events such as birth, death and marriage. Creation of such a civil registry for citizens serves the purpose of creating a legal document that could be used to protect and establish rights of individuals. This also results in the creation of a database that contains vital statistics of important and relevant life events. The United Nations defines civil registration as:9
The continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirements of a country. Civil registration is carried out primarily for the purpose of establishing the legal documents required by law. These records are also a main source of vital statistics. Complete coverage, accuracy and timeliness of civil registration are essential to ensure the quality of vital statistics.
2.2 In the Indian context however, the maintenance of vital statistics does not serve the sole purpose of record-keeping by the State. In many ways it enables social legislations to be effectively enforced. In certain countries there is also a specific register relating to registrations specifically of 'family' events.
2.3 This register has been termed as 'family album', 'household register' et al in various countries. In many countries the official recognition of one's status or of family-related events such as marriage is only granted when all such events have been reported and registered in the family or civil register. For instance Japan considers a marriage to be legally effective only when the household register is updated with the knowledge of the event- this is known as Koseki.
In other countries however, such registers work as centralised repositories for family events that would have legal repercussions which include births, deaths, marriages and even expatriations, as is the case in Germany where the register is known by the name familienbuch and France, where it is called livret de famille. However, this is not the sole source of official recognition for such events.
2.4 Registration of marriage is not compulsory in all countries. However, most countries recognise the need for such registration.
2.5 In South Africa, laws of marriage are laid down in Marriage Act, 1961. The non-registration does not affect the validity of the marriage and marriage can be registered postnuptially. While, a duly signed marriage certificate serves as prima facie proof of the existence of the marriage, the existence of the marriage may still be proved by other evidence. Similarly, Section 8 of the Australian Marriage Act, 1961 provides for registration of marriages.
2.6 The Muslim Marriages and Divorce Registration Act, 1974 of Bangladesh also provides a complete procedure by which all marriages solemnised should be registered and non-registration is punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend up to two years, or fine up to 3000 Taka, or with both.10
2.7 In Pakistan, every marriage solemnised under the Muslim law is required to be registered compulsorily under the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961. After passing of the Hindu Marriage Bill, in March 2017, even the Hindus in Pakistan are required to get their marriages registered.
2.8 In Turkey, there is no specific law on registration of marriage but the marriage is concluded only through civil ceremony in front of the Registrar. This requirement flows from the Turkish Civil Code enacted in 1926 which was amended by Turkish Civil Code (2001).
2.9 In Indonesia, Article 2 para 2 of the Marriage Law of 1974 provides for compulsory registration of marriages. In Sri Lanka, under Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, 1951 (promulgated on 1-8-1954) marriages solemnised therein are required to be registered compulsorily under section 17 of the said Act.11
2.10 The requirement of celebrating and registering a marriage before a public authority and certificate of marriage as the only admissible means of proof of marriage is also available in the Civil Codes of various countries, for example:-
(1) French Civil Code - Arts.165 to 169.
(2) Italian Civil Code - Arts. 106, 107 & 130.
(3) Civil Code of Brazil - Arts.1533 and 1534.
(4) Portuguese Civil Code of 1966 - Arts.1615, 1616, 1651 & 1653.
(5) Civil Code of Quebec - Arts.365 & 378