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Report No. 211

C. Local Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Acts

There are Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Acts in force in six States providing for voluntary registration of marriages and divorces among the local Muslims. These States are as follows:

(i) West Bengal

(ii) Bihar

(iii) Jharkhand

(iv) Assam 19(v) Orissa

(vi) Meghalaya

The parent law among these is the old Bengal Mohammedan Marriage and Divorce Registration Act 1876 which is now in force in the first three of the above-named States.

The Orissa legislature re-enacted in 1949, with some changes, the old Bengal law of 1876 referred to above. Titled Orissa Mohammedan Marriage and Divorce Registration Act 1949, it extends to the whole State.

The Assam legislature had enacted a similar law in 1935 - the Assam Moslem Marriage and Divorce Registration Act. The newly created State of Meghalaya locally re-enacted this law in 1974 with no substantive change.

All these Acts empower the local governments to license suitable persons in various areas authorizing them to register marriages and divorces among the local Muslims. These persons, to be known as "Mohammedan Marriage Registrars", have to act as per the procedure laid down at length in the Acts. All the Acts also prescribe various forms for registration of marriages and different forms of divorce, including talaqs (divorce by husband) and khula (divorce at the instance of wife).

The position of the Mohammedan Marriage Registrars appointed under these Acts is akin to the kazis appointed under the central kazis Act 1880. Like the latter, all these local Acts also clarify that the presence of a State-appointed Mohammedan Marriage Registrar will not be obligatory for any marriage, and also that neither non-registration would affect the validity of any marriage nor will mere registration validate a marriage which is otherwise invalid under Muslim law. Registration under these Acts is thus a mere facility provided by law.

All the Mohammedan Registrars licensed under these Acts have to function under the general superintendence of District Registrars functioning under the Registration Act 1908 and are required to transmit to them their registration records every month. The Inspector-General of Registration functioning in the State under that Act has to exercise control on all Mohammedan Marriage Registrars and issue regulations for their guidance.

All these Acts empower the State Government to make Rules for carrying out their purposes, and such Rules have been made and amended from time to time.

Under the Rules framed under the Bengal law of 1876 a Permanent Committee headed by the Inspector-General of Registrar oversees appointments, suspension and removal of Mohammedan Registrars. With the approval of the Government the Committee can also examine from time to time their knowledge of Muslim law.

In some of the States where such Acts are in force the Rules made thereunder have been made applicable also to the kazis functioning under the central kazis Act 1880 (detailed above). These Rules are, however, not being followed in practice for fear of resentment by the clerics who do have a strong hold upon the society.

In the State of Jammu and Kashmir a Muslim Marriage Registration Act was enacted in 1981, providing for compulsory registration, but had to be soon withdrawn due to stiff opposition by community leaders.

Laws on Registration of Marriage and Divorce - A Proposal for consolidation and reform Back

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