Report No. 270
Chapter - III
Marriage Registration: Indian Legislative Framework
3.1 In India, not recognising unregistered marriage as a valid would be highly unsuitable, as many marriages commonly take place informally in gatherings of relatives, with or without presence of priests, or in any other customary manner which must also be recognised as valid. It was for this reason that, like various other countries, India also expressed its reservation even while ratifying the Convention of 1993.
Customary practices are so prolific and personal law systems also prevail making it necessary for the law to accept cultural and regional diversity. Therefore the idea is to encourage legal education among the people, so that these ceremonies can be preceded or succeeded by registration of the event.
3.2 An unregistered marriage is not to be treated as 'void' but simply in an attempt to encourage registration, there can be small penalties attached to non-registration. This would help in a circumstance when the spouse has been left destitute and a second marriage has been contracted by the other spouse, the proof of first marriage will be indisputable and not permit a spouse to abandon his family and maintenance obligations etc.
3.3 It is worth noting that there are various laws governing the marriage and divorce in India, the Bill seeking Compulsory Registration of Marriages is not intended to challenge or interfere with any of these prevailing systems of personal laws but to simply ensure that marriages under all customs and religions can be registered.