How to register your marriage under various laws in India?

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This post has been written by Sejal Sahu, Student, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur

A religious marriage ceremony is considered to be a legal marriage in India. However getting a legal registration certificate will prove your marriage valid under the court of law.  The Supreme Court in its order dated 14.2.2006 in Seema v. Ashwani Kumar [2006 (2) SCC 578] held that all marriages shall be compulsorily registered and that the State Governments shall initiate action for rule-making in this regard. There is a great diversity in respect of laws for registration of marriages. Most of us don’t know how to register our marriage. Whereas  it is essential to know the procedure of the marriage registration. Since India has diversity in religion and culture, there are different laws for the registration of marriages of different religion. Let’s discuss them in brief:

Registration of marriage under Hindu Marriage Act 1955

The Hindu Marriage Act is applicable where both the husband and wife are Hindus, Sikh, Jain, or Buddhist or where they have converted into either of these religions.The parties need to submit the documents mentioned below for the registration of their marriage.

But before the registration of marriage it is also essential that the marriage needs to be a valid one. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, certain conditions have to be fulfilled to consider the marriage between the parties legal and valid. These conditions have been specified under Sec. 5 of the act. Section 5 of HMA 1955 talks about the conditions for a Hindu Marriage:

Condition for a Hindu Marriage.- A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:

(i) neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;

(ii) at the time of the marriage, neither party,-

(a) is incapable of giving a valid consent of it in consequence of unsoundness of

mind; or

(b) though capable of giving a valid consent has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or

(c) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;

(iii) the bridegroom has completed the age of twenty one years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage;

(iv) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the  custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two;

(v) the parties are not sapindas of each other, unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.

What is prohibited degree of relationship now?

Section 3(g) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 talks about the “degrees of prohibited relationship ” – two persons are said to be within the “degrees of prohibited relationship”-

(I) if one is a lineal ascendant of the other; or

(ii) if one was the wife or husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other; or

(iii)if one was the wife of the brother or of the father’s or mother’s brother or of the grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother or the other; or

(iv)if the two are brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or children of brother and sister or of two brothers or of two sisters.

A marriage falling within the above categories will be considered void. But the customs play an important role here i.e. If there is a custom governing the parties, they may marry even if they fall under the degrees of prohibited relationship.

Registration of marriage under Special Marriage Act 1954

A marriage can be registered under the Special Marriage Act 1954 , where either the husband or wife or both of them are not Hindus, Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists. A marriage which has already been solemnized but the couple wants to register the marriage later, it will also fall under the Special Marriage Act 1954.The couple needs to submit the documents mentioned below for the successful registration of their marriage.

In addition to this on the day of solemnization, three witnesses are also required.

The Special Marriage Act deals with both registrations and solemnization of marriage. Under this Act, certain conditions have been laid down under Sec. 4, which are considerably similar to those laid down under Sec. 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954.

Section 4 of SMA 1954  Conditions relating to solemnization of special marriage.-

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force relating to the solemnization of marriages, a marriage between any two persons may be solemnized under this Act, if at the time of the marriage the following conditions are fulfilled namely:

(a) Neither party has a spouse living:

(b) neither party-

(i) is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind, or

(ii) though capable of giving a valid consent, has been suffering from mental disorder of such a

kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or

(iii) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;

(c) the male has completed the age of twenty-one years and the female the age of eighteen

years;

(d) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship:

Provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage

between them, such marriage may be solemnized, notwithstanding that they are within the

degrees of prohibited relationship: and

(e) where the marriage is solemnized in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, both parties are citizens of India domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends.

Where do I need to approach to get my marriage registered?

For the registration of the marriage one has to approach the office of the Sub Divisional Magistrate under whose registration the marriage took place or where either of the spouse stayed for at least 6 weeks before the marriage.

What are the documents required for the registration of the marriage? (under HMA & SMA)

  • An application form duly signed by both the parties.
  • Documentary evidence of the date of birth of the parties (Matriculation Certificate/ Birth Certificate/Passport) .The minimum age of both parties is 21 years at the time of registration under the Special Marriage Act.
  • In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage(in the case of Hindu Marriage Act).
  • In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage(in the case of Hindu Marriage Act).
  • An attested copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.
  • Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act as the case may be.
  • Ration card of husband or wife whose area SDM has been approached for the certificate.
  • Two passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph.
  • Marriage invitation card, if available.
  • If marriage was solemnized in a religious place, a certificate from the priest is required who solemnized the marriage.
  • Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationality.
  • 100/- in case of Hindu Marriage Act and Rs.150/- in case of Special Marriage Act to be deposited with the cashier of district and the receipt should be attached with the application form.

What is the criteria for marriage registration?

  1. Hindu Marriage Act – After the verification of the all the documents, submitted by the parties, for concluding the process, a day is fixed for the registration which is communicated to the parties. Both the parties are required to be present on the said day before the Sub- Divisional Magistrate, along with the Gazetted Officer who attended their marriage. After the SDM is satisfied with the proceedings, the certificate is granted on the same day.
  2. Special Marriage Act – For commencing the marriage registration process of marriage under this Act , and even before submitting the above-mentioned documents, both parties have to give a 30-day notice to the sub-registrar in whose jurisdiction at least one spouse has resided. Both parties are required to be present after the submission of the documents for the issuance of public notice inviting objections. One copy of the notice is posted on the notice board of the office and another copy of the notice is sent via registered post to both the parties as per the address was given by them. The registration is done 30 days after the date of the notice, after deciding any objection that may have been received during the said period by the SDM. Both the parties along with three witnesses are required to be present on the date of registration.

Although the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 are the two main legislation governing the process of solemnization and registration of marriage in India, there is certain other legislation enacted to oversee the process of marriage solemnization and marriage registration between certain minority religions that are present in India. For instance, the Christians, Bahai and the Parsi community. These minority religions are not covered under either of the two primary legislation but are given equal treatment and hence it was very essential for the Indian legislature to frame laws in this regard.

Registration of Christian marriage

All Christian marriages in India are governed by the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, which provides for the solemnization of marriage either by a minister or by a priest of the church. The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, says that all Christian marriages will be solemnized under its provisions. In addition to that, by the virtue of Sec. 4, it states that, apart from Christian-Christian marriages, the marriage of a Christian with a non-Christian can also be solemnized under this Act.

The Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872 is obsolete in so far as it makes a distinction between “Christians” (defined as “persons professing Christian religion”) and “Indian Christians” (defined as “Christians descendants of natives of India converted to Christianity as well as such converts”). It also makes separate provisions for followers of various Churches – including Church of England (also called Anglican Church), Church of Scotland and Church of Rome (also called Roman Catholic Church). The Act provides separate rules for the solemnization and registration of marriages of Indian Christians and other Christians, and also for the followers of various Churches.Due to the aforestated classification and distinctions the system of registration of marriages provided by the Act is quite complicated. Marriages may, according to the Act, be solemnized by the following:

(i) Ministers of Church who have received episcopal ordination;

(ii) Clergymen of the Church of Scotland;

(iii) Ministers of Religion licensed under the Act;

(iv) Marriage Registrars appointed under the Act; and

(v) Persons licensed under the Act to grant certificates of marriage

between “Indian Christians”.

Marriage Registration

The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, under Part IV deals with the marriage registration performed under this Act. The parties are required to make an application for the marriage registration to the concerned authority in whose Jurisdiction either of the party has been residing. The Marriage Register is where the Registrar, who is present and performs the marriage of the couple, registers the marriage.

An acknowledgement slip of the registration is signed by both the parties to the marriage along with their witnesses and this is attached to the register as proof that the marriage was registered. These acknowledgement slips are sent out at the end of the month to the Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.

Indian Christian marriages may also be endorsed under a special provision without prior notice.

Documents Required:

  • The complete Application Form
  • Passport Size Photographs
  • The Marriage Certificate document issued by the Minister of Priest who performed the marriage
  • Proof of Residence and Age of the Parties
  • An Affidavit certifying the mental and marital status of both parties.

Registration of Parsi marriage.

A Marriage under the Parsi Marriage Act can be registered in the Office of the District Registrar under whose jurisdiction the marriage takes place. The Act considers the marriage unlawful under certain conditions laid down in Sec. 4, that says-

“No Parsi (whether such a Parsi has changed his or her religion or domicile or not) will contract any marriage under this Act or any other law in the lifetime of his or her wife or husband, whether a Parsi or not, except after his or her lawful divorce from such wife or husband or after his or her marriage with such wife or husband has lawfully been declared null and void or dissolved, and, if the marriage was contracted with such wife or husband under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1865 or under this Act, except after a divorce, declaration or dissolution as aforesaid under either of the said Acts”.

Any marriage performed in contradiction of this provision stands void.

According to this Act:

  • A Parsi priest solemnizes the marriage.
  • The signatures of both the bride and the bridegroom are required along with signatures of three witnesses to issue a certificate of marriage.
  • The certificate needs to be sent to the Marriage Officer for registration along with the prescribed fee.
  • The parties mustn’t fall under the ‘Degree of prohibited relationship’ laid down by Sec. 53.

Registration of Muslim Marriage in India

The registration of muslim marriage is done  under Muslim marriage act which is guided by The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 . This law deals with marriage, succession, inheritance  in Muslims .  This act  is based on Islamic law(Sharia) . However   to issue  Muslim marriage certificate different states have different guide lines.  There are some states for which marriage registration is compulsory and  for some  it is not. These laws are not applicable in Goa state, where the Goa Civil Code is applicable for all persons irrespective of their religion. These laws are also not applicable to Muslims who have married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. While other religious communities in India have codified laws, Muslim personal law is not codified in India.

A system of private registration of marriages with the kazis has always prevailed among the Indian Muslims.

Though in principle Islamic law does not require a ritual solemnization of marriage, among the Muslims of India marriages are invariably solemnized by religious officials known as the “kazi”. The Kazi who has performed the marriage can issue a “Nikahnama” which is a marriage certificate.  For legal reasons, such as passport, bank account opening, inheritance, consent in case of emergency, etc it is advisable that the Muslim marriage should be registered with the marriage registrar.

 Muslim Marriage Registration can be registered under the State Marriage Registration Act of the State where it was solemnized and parties reside or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 anywhere in India where the parties to marry reside for not less than 30 days. The Notice period of 30 days required only for marriage registration under the SMA, 1954 and not for other State Marriage Registration Acts.

You should first find if the State in India where you stay and are getting married has any such State Marriage Registration Act or not if that State has the said mentioned Act than get the Nikah registered under that Act only and get Marriage Certificate from the Registrar of Marriages under the Act.

Documents require for the registration of Muslim Marriage in India.

  • Marriage registration application form duly signed by both husband and wife
  • Documentary evidence of date of birth of parties (Matriculation Certificate / Passport/ Birth Certificate)
  • Address Proof of husband or wife (Voter ID/ Passport/ Aadhar)
  • Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationality
  • 3 passport size photographs of both the parties and two marriage photographs
  • Marriage invitation card
  • 3 witness having ID proof (2 passport size photograph each)
  • Nikahnama or the certificate from Religious place

 Registration of Bahai and Jewish Marriages

Bahai marriages are solemnized by religious officials of the community which has a system of   certification of marriages very similar to the nikah-namas issued by the kazis in Muslim marriages (see above). The Jewish system of solemnization is also similar to that of the Muslims. Jewish priests known as Rabbis solemnize marriages and issue certificates. There is no system among either the Bahais or the Jews of transmission of marriage records to any authority under control of the State.There is no legal requirement, or practice, of registering the Bahai or the Jewish marriages with the State registry.

REFERENCES

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