Lawyers hail suggestion to make marriage registration compulsory

Compulsory marriage registration can help fight marriage frauds, lawyers said on Wednesday.

New Delhi: Compulsory marriage registration can help fight marriage frauds, lawyers said on Wednesday, after a Law Commission report recommended making registration compulsory and also linking it with Aadhaar.

A report from the Law Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice BS Chauhan, released on Tuesday recommended compulsory registration of marriage for people of all religions. 

The report also said if the registration of marriage was linked to the unique identification number (UID), it would be possible to achieve universal tracing of records.

Senior Advocate Rebecca John welcomed the recommendation and said it would help in fighting many social problems.

"It will help in fighting social problems like polygamy. Compulsory registration can serve as a means to ensure that conditions of a valid marriage have been performed," John told IANS.

Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra, however, said while the recommendation was good, it would depend on individuals whether they wanted their marriage registered or not.

"I don't know how helpful this will be, as people may still not register marriages. However, at least it will start at some level and there will be marginal benefit initially. With time, it will improve the situation and help in preventing false marriages, polygamy and other problems," Luthra said.

She, however, did not agree on linking it with Aadhaar.

"Instead of linking registration of marriage to the UID, it should be linked with any one proof of identity. We want to maintain our privacy and with Aadhaar, there is apprehension that our information can be leaked," Luthra told IANS.

Advocate M.S. Khan felt that recommendation would help prevent false marriages, polygamy and other problems, and added that it would not interfere with the individual civil laws on marriage for different religions.

"The recommendation is not going to interfere with Muslim or other marriage laws. Particularly, under the Muslim marriage law, marriage is anyhow registered by way of Nikahnama. But it will benefit people in identifying 'void' marriages," Khan told IANS.

"Some people try to conceal their marriages and dupe other women. This step may help in eradicating marriage frauds and it will provide women a societal recognition and legal security. It will also control fraudulent marriages which are on rise," he said.

Khan favoured linking marriage registration with Aadhaar and said it would curb false marriages.

"Linking it with Aadhaar may help prevent marriage fraud, but at the same time, in case the recommendation is accepted, the government must come clear if this law would be implemented with retrospective effect or prospectively," Khan added.

The Law Commission report proposes to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include compulsory registration of marriages within its purview.

It would apply to marriages, including re-marriages, solemnised between couples belonging to any caste or religion or tribe under any law or custom or usage in any form or manner recognised by law or marriage registered under any law.

The report also mentioned that in 2007, the Committee on Empowerment of Women had observed that irrespective of religion, registration of marriages should be made compulsory, and a Supreme Court judgment of 2006 had also directed that marriages of all persons who are citizens of India belonging to various religions, should be registered compulsorily.