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SC: Register all marriages
Sets 3-month deadline
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 25
The Supreme Court today gave three months’ final deadline to the states and Union Territories to frame laws to make the registration of marriages compulsory, as a majority of them have failed to comply with its earlier order of February 2006 in this regard.

“The directions given by the order of February 24, 2006, have not been fully complied with. We, therefore, direct that the states and Union Territories who have not acted in line with the direction given… shall forthwith do it and in no case later than three months from today. It is directed accordingly,” said a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P.Sathasivam.

While fixing further hearing in the matter for four months, the states and Union Territories were further directed to submit affidavit on compliance report before the next date of hearing.

Expressing displeasure over all states not taking the matter seriously enough to come up with rules to make the registration of marriages compulsory, the Bench said that from the details placed before it, only Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Tripura seemed to have complied with the directions.

While issuing the directions, the court again examined the implications of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which applies to all citizens irrespective of their religion, regarding the registration of marriages by a marriage officer, but there was not the element of compulsory registration.

It further said that the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, makes the registration compulsory, as it provides for entry in a marriage register kept in the Church soon after the marriage ceremony along with the signatures of the bride and bridegroom.

Though under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, certain provisions exist for the registration of the marriages, but it had been left to the discretion of the families of the bride and bridegroom to either solemnise the marriage before a registrar or register it after the ceremony in traditional way.

Since the non-registration of a marriage does not invalidate it under the Hindu Marriage Act, its provisions were made in conformity with the court’s direction for framing rules for compulsory registration, the Bench said.

However, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, makes the registration compulsory, it pointed out.

On the framing of laws by some states, it said Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka had made registration compulsory, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Orrisa and Meghalaya had left Muslims away with the option to make it “voluntary” for them to register it.

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