Report No. 270
Chapter - VIII
Conclusions and Recommendations
8.1 The merits of registration of marriages have been discussed at length earlier in the report. A large number of countries have made registration of marriages compulsory. In India, because of its size, population and the sheer diversity of customary forms of marriages, it has often been canvassed that such an endeavour to register all marriages would be difficult. However, the difficulty in implementation does not overshadow the merits of such an enactment.
8.2 Once enacted, the amended law would enable better implementation of many other civil as well as criminal laws. It would provide citizens, not new rights but better enforcement of existing rights under various family laws that grant and provide to protect many rights of spouses within a marriage. Registration of a marriage under any of the prevailing marriage Acts e.g. the Indian Christian Marriages Act. 1872; the Kazis Act, 1880; the Anand Marriage Act, 1909; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; the Sharia Application Act, 1937; Special Marriage Act, 1954; Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; any other custom or personal law relating to marriage will be acceptable and a separate standalone legislation may not be required so long as an amendment is made to the Births, Deaths Registration Act to include Marriages.
8.3 Under the scheme of the Constitution the power to make laws governing marriage and divorce falls under entry 5 of the Concurrent List.36 In view of the provisions of article 254 of the Constitution any law enacted by a State, which is in force on the date of commencement of this Act (Bill of 2015), if not in consonance and in conformity with this Act (Bill) shall be void to that extent. This Bill will not be in derogation of any provision of any existing Act dealing with compulsory registration of marriages, provided the existing law provides for stringent consequences for non-registration of marriages or provides a better mechanism for such a registration.
8.4 This Bill would supplement the domain of family laws that already exist and is not aimed at removing, abolishing or amending specific religious/ cultural practices and laws that are accepted under personal laws prevailing in India. The subject of personal laws is wide and complex, and this report is not aimed at creating conditions for introducing family law reforms except the simple procedural change that Compulsory Registration of Marriages will entail.
8.5 Since, entry 5 of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, contains most matters of family law, allowing for the States to legislate on these matters, the recommended Bill would only serve as a guiding principle which would apply across the country but specific amendments to the scheme can be added by the States bearing in mind that there may be more effective ways for such registration of marriages depending on the context and particularities of different States. These differences may merely be procedural and not substantive. The above proposals shall be in addition to the other existing laws and will not affect any rights recognised under any other law or custom.
8.6 The Registrar who is responsible for the registration of births and deaths shall be responsible for the registration of marriages as well. Clause 8 specifies the people who shall be eligible to submit information to the Registrar in order to register the marriage. The Amendment Bill should provide that if the Birth or Marriage or Death is not registered within the specified time limit, then the Registrar shall on the payment of a late fee, register the death or birth (a) within a period of 30 days (b) within one year, only with the written permission of the prescribed authority; and (c) after one year, only on an order of a First Class Magistrate. It provides for a penalty of Rs.5 per day in case of delay in registration of 'marriage without a reasonable cause'.
8.7 On line of the Punjab Compulsory Registration Act, 2012, a provision in the Central Act may be considered such that, the Registrar may also, suo-moto, or on notice, enter and register any marriage which takes place in his jurisdiction, or if either of the parties have a permanent residence therein, in the marriage register maintained under the Act, after calling the parties concerned and ascertaining the facts which are required for such marriage to be registered.
8.8 If the Registrar finds that, any entry of a marriage in the register kept by him under this Act, is erroneous in form or substance or has been fraudulently and improperly got made, he may subject to such rules, as may be made by the State Government with respect to conditions on which and the circumstances in which, such entries may be corrected or cancelled, correct the error or cancel the entry by making a suitable entry in the margin, without any alteration of the original entry, and shall sign and attest such an entry, and also indicate the date of correction and/or cancellation so made. Provided that no such correction or alteration shall be made to the detriment of any person without giving him an opportunity of being heard.
8.9 A provision from the Delhi Act is also worth including in the Central legislation that, in case a marriage is solemnised in any country other than India, then the Registrar of marriage shall satisfy himself/ herself-
(a) That the marriage has been solemnised in accordance with the laws of that country between parties of whom at least, one is a citizen of India; and,
(b) That at the time of registration, the marriage satisfies all the conditions laid down in Section 4 of the Foreign Marriages Act, 1969 (33 of 1969).
8.10 Village Panchayats, local civil bodies and municipalities should create awareness so as to get register all marriages with the local administration compulsorily. Further, producing of marriage certificate should be made mandatory when anyone writing the name of spouse in any application; for getting any benefit on behalf of husband or wife; for making application to government departments; for getting benefits of any welfare schemes like agricultural loan, education loan etc. Also, a unified database that consists of birth, marriage and death records would allow easy tracing of records.