In India marriage is a big affair. In many communities, the celebrations go on for days together. All the merrymaking and glorification involved in an Indian wedding, signifies how important it is to Indian families.
Without a shadow of a doubt, it is very much true that marriages are made in heaven! Well, at least the major part of it is! Fortunately, or unfortunately, for the sake of records, a teeny-weeny part of it has to take place on paper, and legally! In the year 2006, The Supreme Court of India directed that all marriages in India shall be registered compulsorily. However, failing to do so does not render the marriage illegal.
1. Marriage Certificate- Can’t We Do Without It?
An event as indispensable as this, which involves the lives of two individuals and in a country like India, when it involves two families, must be recorded on legal instruments. Regardless of whether it is registered or not, the legality of wedlock can never be put into question. But if that’s the case, then why take the pain of getting it registered? There are few instances where few operations can be done relatively easier when a couple possess a marriage certificate than when they do not. To cite a few, having a marriage certificate helps when a man/woman wants to travel with their partner abroad on a dependent visa. It comes in quite handy when one wishes to apply for citizenship or for residency in a different country.
Additionally, a marriage registration has become an irremissible document when a couple wants to buy a property together or if they wish to secure a joint loan or event to claim the insurance on behalf of one’s spouse. On the other hand, it is only prudent to be realistic. Life is not always a bed of roses. There are times when a marriage does not go well as intended. One might cheat another or they simply might not want to discontinue their journey as a couple. Under such circumstances, it is only expected that their marriage has some evidence in black and white to proceed further legally. On these grounds, it can be stated that registration of marriage undeniably offers security and stability to the parties concerned.
2. Does The Procedure of Registration Vary with Respect to One’s Religion?
With respect to marriage, to main legislations governing the registration procedures are:
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
The two legislations lack resemblance with respect to a few facts. While The Hindu Marriage Act claims that marriage is a sacrament, The Special Marriage Act states that marriage is a contract. Also, while The Hindu Marriage Act advises registration to an already solemnised marriage, the Special Marriage Act allows both solemnization and registration by a Marriage Officer. If both the partners entering the marriage are Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist their marriage will be registered under The Hindu Marriage Act.
Alternatively, under The Special Marriage Act, registration is carried out when one or both the partners are Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jewish. Also, if one of the partners belongs to a different Nationality, then once again The Special Marriage Act comes into the picture. In such cases, the partner is required to hand over a NOC from the dedicated embassy with their visa details within 30 days of their marriage. With all this aside, a recent trivia about the registration of marriages is that a plea has been made by an NGO in the Delhi High Court in December 2021 that same-sex marriages should be registered under the Special Marriage Act and not under the Hindu Marriage Act.
3. Procedure of Registration of Marriages
The parties willing to register should be carrying the required documents like that of 2 photographs of the wedding ceremony, wedding invitation, ID and address proofs, proof of their date of birth and an affidavit of self-declaration stating that neither of them has a living spouse and also that they are not related to each other by prohibited degrees of relationship and that they aren’t sapindas to each other. It is mandatory that this affidavit be attested by a notary. The parties are required to sign the register of marriage in the presence of three witnesses for each of them.
The parties intending to register have to present themselves in the sub-registrar office under whose jurisdiction either of them was residing or working for more than a period of six months. Here, the marriage is carried out as per the customary rites and ceremonies.
When the parties intend to solemnize their marriage under this Act, a notice is to be sent in the stipulated manner to the officer. At least one of the parties should be residing in the district in which they are willing to get their marriage solemnised for a period of 30 days in advance of giving the notice. The notice is then displayed on the sub-registrar’s office notice board for a period of 30 days. If no objection is raised to this marriage by anybody within this time frame, the marriage is then taken ahead of and registered.
4. Can Marriage be Registered Online?
When everything is going online why not marriages? Getting one’s marriage registered online is possible in the major cities within the country. All the couple has to do is to open the official government website of the state where the marriage was solemnised or in the one in which one of the partners was residing and fill out the registration form. After which, the parties would be called over by the registrar. The documents, proofs and witnesses would be verified and the marriage would be registered.
5. What is a Court Marriage?
A court marriage is often thought of as analogous to the registration of marriages. In a court marriage, any two people of the same or different religions or nationalities or even genders can marry in the presence of three witnesses and a marriage officer. In this type of marriage, there are no rituals held. The marriage is held as laid down in the Special Marriages Act, 1954.
In India marriage is not just two people coming together, but two families joining together. It is this very fact that it makes this so beautiful yet complicated. When an event decides the fate of two families, it has to be handled in the most meticulous way possible. No matter how beautiful and traditional the rituals and celebrations are, handling it the legal way would only make it easier and more peaceful for the parties entering the marriage and for their respective families.