Compulsory Registration of Marriages in India

However it has been stated that failure to register a marriage will not affect its validity. Laws which provide for the voluntary registration of Muslim marriages are in force in the States of Assam, Bihar, Orissa and Bengal.

Among the Parsees and Indian Christians the registration of marriages is compulsory. Registration is also compulsory for marriages solemnized under the Special Marriages Act, 1954. Section 16 of this Act permits voluntary registration of marriages celebrated under other laws.

The figures given below illustrate that the appeal of this secular law, though it ensures better legal protection to all parties, is still limited to a very small minority. Neither has the permission for voluntary registration attracted much response.

The ultimate object should be to recognize registration as the sole and conclusive proof of marriage, irrespective of the religious rites under which it was solemnized. It may be mentioned here that India has neither signed nor ratified the United Nations Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriage.

Explaining the position of India on ratification, the Indian delegate stated “the Convention would impose an obligation to introduce legislation, and since that might not be feasible at the present time he must reserve his government’s position on the question of ratification.”

We regret that for over a decade no attempt has been made to introduce legislation to implement the objects of the U.N. Convention. This attitude indicates a casualness and lack of concern on matters affecting the status of women. We recommend that registration should be made compulsory for all marriages. We have a clear precedent for a uniform measure in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act.