Context:

The Law Commission has recommended making registration of marriages compulsory.

Current Issue:

  • In its 270th Report submitted to the Union Law Ministry, the law commission has recommended to the Centre that registration of marriages be legally mandated with a fine for non-compliance.
  • For this, the law panel has sought an amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, which only regulates registration of births and deaths currently
  • The Commission referred to the 2006 Supreme Court judgement in Seema vs. Ashwani Kumar case, wherein it was stated that marriages of Indian citizens belonging to various religions should be registered compulsorily in their States.
  • Making marriage registration compulsory is expected to prevent fraud marriages, bigamy, child marriages, trafficking and denial of subsistence to deserted women.
  • Circumventing Supreme Court order that makes Aadhaar voluntary and not mandatory, the commission has also suggested that marriage certificate be linked with the Aadhaar Card.
  • According to the Commission, linking registration of marriages with Aadhaar would ensure universal tracking of records.
  • The Commission has suggested that the time limit to register marriages should be restricted to 30 days after which a penalty of Rs.5 per day should be imposed.
  • It also suggested that given the social context in which marriages take place, the maximum penalty should not exceed Rs. 100.
  • The panel clarified that the move will not impeach the personal laws or the religion of an individual.

Amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969

  • In 2012, a Bill was put forward in Parliament to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to provide for compulsory registration of marriages.
  • The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in July 2013
  • However, it was not taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha
  • It lapsed on the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
  • Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2015, was forwarded to the commission in February 2017 for an opinion.
  • The Commission has suggested that a minor amendment should be made to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to provide for compulsory marriage registration.

To read about Marriage Registration In India: Click Here

The need to make marriage registration compulsory

  • To prevent fraudulent Marriages:
  • In the absence of compulsory registration of marriages, women are duped into marrying without the performance of the conditions of a valid marriage. Such fraudulent marriages are especially on rise among Non-Resident Indians.
  • This deprives women of societal recognition and legal security.
  • To prevent child marriages and to ensure minimum age of marriage
  • To prevent polygamy, unless the same is permitted under any law or custom
  • To prevent denial of subsistence to deserted women
  • Creation of database:
  • Comprehensive data on marriage and divorce will complete the demographic profile of a India’s population.
  • Along with data on births and deaths, it will provide the data needed for planning for the growth and aging of the population and forecasting government services and expenditures.
  • Marital arrangements determine significant aspects of women’s lives and their children.
  • Without data on marriage and divorce, information on a key aspect of women’s vulnerability is missed. Thus, to ensure comprehensive database, compulsory registration of marriage is required.

Conclusion

  • Compulsory marriage registration can help address the issue of gender inequality and eradicate several societal evils such as child marriage, forced marriages and gender violence.
  • Making registration of marriage compulsory would prevent denial of status to women.
  • Compulsory registration of marriage is a necessary reform to ensure women empowerment and gender justice.
  • Local civil bodies should take up the initiative to explain the benefits of legal marriage certificates and encourage couples to formally register their marriages.

 

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