M A I N   N E W S

Marriages must be registered
SC directive to Centre, states
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 14
In a judgement of far reaching consequences in terms of protecting the rights of married women, the Supreme Court today directed the Union and state Governments to make the registration of marriages mandatory and notify the amended rules to this effect within three months.

The ruling, which came as a major relief to beleaguered wives fighting for maintenance on break-up of marriages, was an outcome of an appeal in a routine maintenance suit, filed by Seema, a city-based woman against her husband Ashwani Kumar, who had disputed her marriage with him in the absence of any documentary proof which she had failed to produce.

Terming the lack of mandatory provision for marriage registration as a serious flaw in the matrimonial laws for it being taken as a legal protection by husbands in the courts, a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice S H Kapadia directed the Centre and state Governments to make necessary amendments in the rules to facilitate compulsory registration of marriages by a nodal officer.

Giving three months time to the Union and state Governments to notify the amended rules, the court further directed them to issue advertisements of amended rules’ draft within one month to invite public opinion about it.

The rules relating to registration “shall” deal clearly with “implications” for non-registration of marriages and “false declarations” made by any one of the couples or any other person concerned, the court said.

While framing the rules, the Central and state Governments should make mandatory provision in the law itself for appointing nodal officers for registering the marriages, the court said.

To ensure speedy implementation of the verdict, the court directed its registry to provide the copies of the judgement the Solicitor General of India and standing counsel of each state in Supreme Court so that the authorities concerned took necessary steps immediately.

While framing the guidelines in its verdict, court had taken into consideration the views of National Commission for Woman (NCW), which had supported the move for making the registration “mandatory” after the Bench had issued notice by it during the hearing of Seema’s suit for maintenance.

During the arguments, the court had found that in cases related to the matrimonial disputes, the existing laws were heavily loaded in favour of the husbands because in the absence of mandatory provision of registration of marriages, the husband were found to be taking advantage of this lacunae.

It had said Seema’s was not the lone such case as from hundreds of cases come before the courts, it was found that such a legal protection was normally taken by the husband who right away rejected a duly married woman as his wife and often got away with it in the absence of documentary proof.


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