In India, marriage is considered as a holy, religious activity which confers
rights and duties upon both the male and female involved in the marriage. The
exact meaning of marriage that whether it is sacrament or a contract has
received a lot of arguments and debates. The Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage
Act, 1955 expressly talks about the ceremonies associated with that of marriage
The act under Section 7(2) talks about saptapadi that involves seven
steps taken by the bride and groom around the sacred holy fire jointly and that
completes the marriage. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 applies to Hindu and
includes Buddhist, Jain and Sikh and Muslim, Christian, Parsi and Jews are
The people that are included under the ambit of Section 7 are proved to be
governed by the Hindu Law. Unlike Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, The Special Marriage
Act, 1954 governs the marriage of Indians in foreign countries without taking
any religious barriers into consideration categorizes marriage and that marriage
is treated as civil contract by nature.
The registration of marriage in India is
not compulsory. Registration laws are at discretion of the state and at times
the same has been proved to be beneficial whereas at times registration has not
played any major role in the marriage.
There are several judicial decisions regarding the registration in India and
Section 8 of the act expressly deals with the provision of registration for the
Hindu marriages. The registration takes place only after the solemnization of
marriage as per Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The solemnization of
marriage takes place once the parties, that is both the male and females follows
all customary rites and ceremonies as per the act. The eligible date for
marriage in India is minimum 18 years for females and 21 years for males. The
registration process is applicable to those who are of or above the mentioned
age for men and women.
Is it mandatory to register marriage in India?
The fact that Indian is a diverse nation and a residence for several religion
and group cannot be denied. Each group is being governed by their personal rules
and regulation when it comes to personal laws. The framers of Indian
Constitution while framing the constitution did not think fit to discuss the
topic of marriage due to sensitivity involved into it.
Before coming to the
topics like procedure and documents required for registration, it is very
important for us to know the actual meaning of registration. Section 8 of the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as mentioned aforesaid expressly deals with the element
of registration but it must be noted that the provision is not compulsory in
nature for the parties in a marriage.
The subsections of section 8 are well elaborated:
- Section 8(1) state that the state governments do have authorities to make rules
and the same will state that the parties involved in the marriage have been so
in terms with the conditions that is laid down in the Hindu Marriage Register.
Along with the documents that are associated with the marriage should also be
made available to the parties for future references. And hence, it acts as a
proof of the Hindu Marriages.
- Section 8(2) mentions about State Governments responsibility to check and ensure
that the parties involved in the marriages have abided by the rules mentioned in
clause 1 of the act and a fine of twenty- five rupees would be charged from the
parties in case any contravention occurs from the parties.
- Section 8(3) states that the rule under clause 1 of the section is at the
discretion of state and it would be implemented once the State Legislature forms
- Section 8(4) talks about the duty of Hindu Marriage Register to make an
inspection about the marriage in order to have sufficient evidence and proof in
order to prove it legal.
- Section 8(5) explains the fact the validity of sections mentioned above will
remain unaffected, if the registration of Hindu Marriage is not done in the
It simply means that failure to register the marriage won't affect its validity.
For the marriage registration to take place the presence of both the parties is
very much required. Registration binds the marriage and as a shield for the
parties involved to it. The fact of India being a patriarchal society cannot be
denied, where women are subjected to harassment, violence and other social
Degree of prohibited relationship
The circumstances in which two spouses are deemed to be covered under the
degree of prohibited relationship are:
- When one is lineal ascendant to the other.
- When one has been the husband or wife of lineal descendant of the other.
- When one them has been the wife of the brother or the father's or mother's
brother or grandfather's or grandmother's brother of the other.
- When they are brother-sister, aunt and nephew, niece and uncle, or child of
brother(s) or sister(s).
The marriage under this category is null and void. But, customs should also be
kept in mind meaning that if customs allow such marriage the parties might
marry. The punishment of marriage falling under prohibited degree is simple
imprisonment for one month or fine of Rs. 10,000 or with both. The punishment
mentioned is for both the parties.
Solemnization in Hindu Marriage
The registration process under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is concerned primarily
with the solemnization of marriage by the virtue of Section 7 of the act. As per
the provision of the act solemnization is performed by following customary rites
and ceremonies including saptapadi that is seven steps by both the parties
around the sacred fire. With the performance of this, the marriage becomes
absolute and binding.
Requirements of marriage registration in India
There are mainly two legislations that governs the marriages in India
and they are:
The process of registration includes certain requirements and the
party should carry on which are provided in the discussion
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
- The sub-divisional magistrate must be provided with
application form regarding the registration and it must include
initials of both the parties. The parties need to wait for 15
days in case of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for an appointment
whereas it may extend to 30 days in case of the Special Marriage
- Both the parties must present birth certificate, passport or
matriculation certificate as documentary evidence.
- At the time of marriage registration in a court of law, both
the parties should have attained the minimum legal age.
- Both the parties must provide passport size photo as well.
- In case the parties are registering under the Special
Marriage Act, 1954, the place of residence for the parties is
required for documentary evidence.
- The marriage registration process is also followed by the
deposition of fees. The deposition fee is Rs. 100 and Rs. 150 for marriage registration under the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 respectively.
In the case, Margarit Palai v. Savita Palai
it was held by the court that under
the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 only the marriage between Hindus will be
registered. The marriage between Hindu and Christian cannot be registered. In
another case of Kagavalli v. Saroja
, the Madras High Court was of the opinion
that the marriage registration should be made compulsory.
However, in the case of P. Remesh v. Secy, Kanapuram Grama Panchayat
it was held
by the court that registration must be done within the 15 days of solemnization
Seema v. Ashwani Kumar: In this case the Apex Court was of the opinion that
the matter of registration of marriage falls within the ambit of Entry 30,
List-3, and Section 7 of the Constitution of India. Hence, it was viewed that
the registration of marriage for any religion under the law must be made
compulsory once the solemnization has been done. It was though this case the
judiciary provided nod to the legislature for making compulsory registration of
marriage in India.
The Apex Court provided direction to the States and Union
Territories to file reports regarding the compliance and non- compliance with
the provision. The states like Rajasthan, Sikkim, Karnataka, Bihar, Chattisgarh,
Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Tripura compiled with the
direction, some filed only in context to Hindus and others
remained silent on the matter. The court also granted a
period of 3 months for filing the compliance
Pranav A.M. v. Secy Engandiyum Gram Panchayat: In this instant the court was
of the opinion that if the marriage had taken place between two individuals
after conversion of into Hinduism, then the registrar has no rights of
inspection rather he/she should simply perform the duty of registering marriage.
Valeshma v. Cochin Units: In this case the validity of registration was
questioned. The court in this case stated that registration will be made null
and void, if the ceremonies are not performed. However, the decision was passed
keeping in mind the societal framework and later on the decision was overturned
in Seema v. Ashwani Kumar's case.
Kagavalli v. Saroja: The court in this case held that mere registration of
marriage does not validate the invalid marriage.
Is compulsory registration of marriage in India feasible?
India became the signatory to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on 30th July, 1980. India ratified to CEDAW
in the year 1993 and as per Article 16(2) of the CEDAW, it was recommended to
all signatory to adopt compulsory registration.
India made a statement, the
concept of compulsory marriage registration is not practically possible is such
a diverse country like India, with variety of customs, religions and literacy
level and expressed that the clause would be considered but no such steps were
taken in future to proceed with compulsory registration.
The Central Government brought, Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005
with the view to make people aware about social structure. However, the bill was
welcomed by the Law Commissioner of India and other communities but many learned
member, communities and groups opposed the same.
The Registration of Births and
Death (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed for the solemnization of marriage,
wherein the aim was to provide relief to the woman those come across maintenance
cases. But, the discussions came to end on the fact that unless Central
Government make some laws, it is difficult to establish compulsory registration.
Issues pertaining to compulsory registration of marriage in India:
Can such a compulsion help the cause?With lot of studies, debates and discussions, it could be observed that non-
registration of marriage act as a hurdle in claiming maintenance. It could be
seen that under Section 125 Cr.P.C., if the woman had lack of details of
husband's income often leads to stalling of cases. So, making registration is
not solution to all legal and social issues faced by the women in day to day
The Central Government should come with such laws that broaden the meaning
of women as a wife. Also, there is no any specific research that states
compulsory registration could be viable solution to all socio-legal problems
suffered by women.
Do the states with compulsory marriage registration are able to
implement the policy?As per subsection 8(3) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it is at discretion of
the state legislature to enact laws for compulsory registration of marriage.
Though, the states that have enacted such laws suffer lot of lacuna and that
simply hampers the cause. For example, Tamil Nadu Registration of Marriages Act,
2009 requires any proof of valid age and the same could be fulfilled by just
mark-sheet or a birth certificate.
In such cases there might be the possibility
of submitting forged document. The state legislations have also included
punitive measures for non- registration of the marriage. For example, The Mizoram Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2007 expressly mentions that
parties failing to register their marriage willfully shall be punished with
imprisonment of six months and fine of Rs. 1000. So, it could be concluded that
administrative actions should not be introduced.
Will a law for compulsory marriage registration consistent with
present laws?The landmark case, Seema v. Ashwani Kumar was instrumental behind the 211th Law
Commission report and the report recommended for compulsory registration
marriage in India. The question in this context arises that whether such laws
will be consistent with the present laws that are dealing with marriage in our
country. The most perfect example could be The Prohibition of Child Marriage
The act simply states that child marriage would be at the option for
the married party as whether they want to continue with the marriage after two
years of majority of the party. The act does not make the child marriage void ab
inito but it's voidable at the option minor.
Hence, it could be implied that
child marriage would continue to be a valid one even it is not registered and
compulsory registration would not continue in the long run. So, with the above
discussion it is clear that question at hand "Is India ready to have compulsory
registration laws in India?" remains to be negative and gender equality is far
With the above discussion, it is quite clear that non- registration of marriage
is a loss for the parties involved to the marriage. It could be implied that
registration of marriage make the marriage legal and recognized in the eye of
law. Since long Indian society has been recognized as recognized as a
patriarchal society and there are societal issues which are commonly affecting
the women and they include issues like:
- Child Marriage
- Marital Rape
- Domestic Violence
- Harassments and many more issues
In the landmark case, Seema v. Ashwani Kumar
a transfer petition was
filed in the Apex Court in which the National Commission of Women in the
affidavit talks about the importance of compulsory marriage registration laws in
India. The commission stated that with the compulsory registration of marriage
several issues could be avoided.
They include issues like child marriage, marriage without the consent of the
parties, illegal bigamy/ polygamy, desert from men and sale of girls under the
grab of marriage could be prevented on one hand while on the other hand it would
enable the women to claim their matrimonial rights, inheritance rights and other
privileges. So, the marriage is unregistered the parties cannot avail the claim
and imprisonment would be awarded along with penalties in case of non-
registration of marriage.
There are several arguments and debates pertaining to compulsory registration of
marriage in India, wherein one community accepts the compulsory marriage
registration and the other community, either deny or remain silent to the cause.
In diverse country like India with variety of customs, religions, groups and
difference in literacy level implementing law like compulsory marriage
registration for the sake of minimizing societal issue is no possible rather it
would have more negative consequences as compared to the positive consequences.
This could be expressly drawn the from the non-compliance of the clause 2 of
Article 6 of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW), wherein the signatory was to make the law for compulsory
marriage registration, in order to protect the women from all forms of
socio-legal issues. But India, though being a signatory to the convention no
such law was mind keeping in mind the fact of diversity.
The second instance could be landmark case of Seema v. Ashwani Kumar, wherein
the Apex Court provided direction to the States and Union Territories to file
reports regarding the compliance and non- compliance with the provision, but not
any strict action or decision was made.
The compulsory marriage registration is not the solution to inequalities, social
and legal issues faced by a woman in India. There could be better methods to
advance solutions like the harmonious and expansive interpretation the term
, adoption of other methods for methods for women empowerment so that
not only the wife could avail legal remedies but also the concubines.
The laws in India should always be backed by punitive measures, that leave the
law being a mere procedural one rather than enabling it to achieve the
substantial goal. India is a nation with less literacy rate where people are
unaware of prevailing laws, so implementing laws for compulsory registration
would have possibility of failure in legal claims due to non- registration of
It could be concluded that solemnization and registration are regulated legally
on India. However, law needs to be upgraded with the societal changes so that it
may get fit in the present situation. The compulsory registration of marriage
should not be the solution for societal issues that a woman suffers.
The laws should be made keeping in the constitutional provisions. The laws
should be such that talks about equality i.e. Article 14, laws should be such
that no discrimination is made Article 15(1) but at same time Article 15(3)
talks about power of the state to make special provisions for women and
children. The question at hand "Is India ready to have compulsory registration
laws in India?" remains to be negative and gender equality is far to achieve.
- Acts/ Constitution/ Bill/ Convention
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- Tamil Nadu Registration of Marriages Act, 2009
- The Mizoram Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2007
- The Constitution of India
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill, 2005
- The Registration of Births and Death (Amendment) Bill, 2012
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of discrimination Against
- Dr. Paras Diwan, Modern Hindu Law 24th Edition, 2019