There is no Central uniform Act on registration of marriage, applicable throughout India. There are various statutes which apply to different sets of people. In various States all over India different marriage Acts are in operation. Further, general public is not aware about the procedure, method, applicability and effects of registration and non-registration of the marriages under various statutes.
Some of the statutes on registration of marriage are:-
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 :- Section 8 of this act there exist certain provision for registration of marriage.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 :- It applies to Indian citizen irrespective of religion. Registration is mandatory by the Marriage officer specially appointed for the purpose.
- The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 :- Under this Act, entries are made in the marriage register of the concerned Church soon after marriage ceremony along with signatures of Bride and Bridegroom, the officiating priest and the witness.
- The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 :-It makes registration of marriage compulsory by Marriage Registrars (Parsi Priests).
- The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 :- It relates to solemnization and registration of marriage of an Indian citizen with another Indian or a foreigner.
These statutes did neither provide compulsory registration of all marriage, nor they provide any ill-effect or loss for non-registration of any marriage.
Several states have their own relevant legislations in respect of registration of marriage e.g.
- The Bombay Registration of marriage Act, 1953 (Applicable to Maharastra & Gujrat)
- The Karnataka Marriage (Registration and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1976 (Applicable to Karnataka)
- The Himachal Pradesh Registration of Marriages Act, 1996 (Applicable to Himachal Pradesh)
- The Andhra Pradesh Compulsory Registration of Marriages, Act 2002 (Applicable to Andhra Pradesh)
Abovementioned Four legislation provide for compulsory registration of marriage. In all other states, the registration of marriage is not compulsory.
Though the registration of marriage does not authenticate the validity of marriage, but it authenticates the happening of marriage. These statutes do not prima facie prove the marriage.
The Supreme Court in the case of ‘SEEMA Vs ASHWANI KUMAR’ [(2006) 2 SCC 578] gave the necessary direction to Central Government as well as State Government to provide sufficient law so as to register compulsorily all the marriages.
The job of Oath Commissioner is defined under The Indian Oaths Act, 1969. The job of Notarised Advocate is defined under The Notary Act, 1952. Nowhere in both statutes is that the marriage can be registered by Oath Commissioner or Notarised Advocate.
The Oath Commissioner or the Notarised Advocate is not supposed to perform any marriage by executing document. None of the both are competent or authorised to perform marriage or divorce deed.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court in case of ‘Mukesh s/o Laxman @ laxminarayan VS State of MP’ on 31 december 2020 on knowing that the Oath Commissioner & Notarised Advocates are executing document related to divorce and marriage came on heavily on Notarised Advocates & Oath Commissioners called for strict guidelines for not executing such type of deeds otherwise their licence to practice would be terminated.
The bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court opined that Notarised Advocates (Notary) or Oath Commissioners sometime conspire together with people to execute marriage registration which they know they are not allowed to do.
The High court also noted that The Law Department of the relevant state should take action and find out as to how these Oath Commissioner & Notarised Advocates (Notary) are doing these kind of illegal work. The court is always receiving these kinds of cases these days where Forged marriages have been performed by the Notary.
Marriage can only be registered by the Registrar of Marriage who is appointed by the state and is authorised to issue Marriage Registration Certificate.
The marriage by that Notarised Advocates (Notary) and Oath Commissioners is not valid. They are misleading people by issuing invalid documents in the name of Marriage Certificate.
Most traditional marriages lack documentation. Despite numerous benefits of the registration of marriage, there have never been a settled law or custom, which can mandate to register compulsorily all the marriages.