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Report No. 211

Chapter III

Registration of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh Marriages

A. Hindu Marriage Act 1955

Hindu law was first codified in the princely state of Baroda under the title "Baroda Hindu Nibandh 1937". Before that the Mysore State had enacted a Hindu Law (Women's Rights) Act 1933.

In what was called 'British India' a number of laws were enacted one after the other to reform certain aspects of the Hindu law of marriage. None of the local and central laws referred to above contained any requirement for registration of marriages with the State authorities. The first law making a provision for registration of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh marriages was the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 enacted after Independence.

The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 does not apply in the State of Goa and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu. In Puducherry it does not apply to the 'Renoncants' (those who opted for the local Franco-Indian law at the time of the assimilation of the territory into the Indian Union in 1954). The State of Jammu and Kashmir has got its own Hindu Marriage Act enacted on the pattern of the central Act.

"For the purpose of facilitating the proof of Hindu marriages" Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 enabled the State governments to make Rules for optional registration of marriages, "in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed," by getting their particulars entered in a Hindu Marriage Register kept for the purpose. Such Registers "shall at all reasonable times be open for inspection and shall be admissible as evidence of statements therein contained." Certified copies of entries in the Register would be provided on payment of a fee.

The Act further empowered the State Governments to issue a "direction" to make registration of marriages compulsory "if it is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do." The Government could take such an action either for the whole State or for any part thereof and could also decide whether registration will be compulsory "in all cases or in such cases as may be specified." If a State Government issued such a direction for compulsory registration of marriages, its violation would be punishable with a fine of Rs. 25. Non-registration of a marriage in any case will not, however, affect the validity of any marriage.

As ordinarily the Hindu Marriage Act does not apply to the Scheduled Tribes, tribal marriages remained outside the scope of Section 8 of the Act and the Rules framed thereunder by the State Governments.

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

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