Report No. 211
Findings and Recommendations
We now proceed to summarize our findings based on our survey of the existing Central and State laws relating to registration of marriages:
(i) There has been, and remains, tremendous diversity of laws relating to registration of marriages. The present state of the law on the subject is indeed complicated and confusing.
(ii) The only laws which provide for any kind of registration of divorces relate to Muslims and Parsis. All other marriage registration laws do not provide for registration of divorces although it is a socially beneficial proposition.
(iii) Registration of out-of-court divorces among the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs - which the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 recognizes - is extremely desirable.
(iv) In the Muslim society there is a system of private registration of marriages by the kazis, which needs to be streamlined and linked with registration of marriage with State Registry.
(v) Among the Muslims divorces are never registered with a kazi. In those cases where a divorce takes place with the intervention of a kazi no record of the divorce is maintained by him. The provisions of the local laws in the Eastern States for registration of divorces among the Muslims are dormant and are hardly used in practice. Absence of registration of divorces in a community whose personal law allows out-of-court divorce leaves abundant room for misuse of law and often causes great hardship to women.
(vi) In very few States all marriages irrespective of the law under which these may have been solemnized have to be compulsorily registered. The majority of States have not enacted any general law on marriage registration applicable to all communities.
(vii) In those States where there are laws for compulsory registration of all marriages, such laws are faulty and ineffective. People generally do not adhere to them, as non-registration entails only fine of a petty amount.
(viii) The administrative machinery for registration of marriages is not regulated everywhere by one and the same law. This creates a lot of confusion with registration officials as well as people wanting or required to register their marriages.
(ix) As various communities are still governed by different marriage laws, Rules for compulsory registration of all marriages in all communities cannot obviously be made under any particular community-specific law.
(x) There is a general confusion in the minds of the people that registration of a marriage solemnized as per religious rites and desired to be governed by the religion-based law of the parties will turn it into a civil marriage to be governed by the general law of civil marriages. This is a great inhibition against marriage registration which needs to be effectively removed.
(xi) Advantages of registration of marriage and disadvantages of nonregistration are not specified in any law or policy document and therefore there is little clarity in the mind of the people in this respect.