Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J.
1. Pursuant to the order dated
23.7.2006, the matter was placed for our consideration. By judgment
dated 14.2.2006 reported as Smt. Seema v. Ashwani Kumar (2006 (2)
SCC 578), it was directed that all marriages shall be compulsorily
registered. In the said order, it was inter alia noticed as follows:
"It has been pointed out that
compulsory registration of marriage would be a step in the right
direction for the prevention of child marriage still prevalent in many
parts of the country. In the Constitution of India, 1950 (in short the
'Constitution') List II (the Concurrent List) of the Seventh Schedule
provides in Entries 5 and 30 as follows:
"5. Marriage and divorce; infants
and minors; adoption; wills; intestacy and succession; joint family and
partition; all matters in respect of which parties in judicial
proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this
Constitution subject to their personal law.
30. Vital statistics including
registration of births and deaths."
2. It is to be noted that vital statistics including registration of
deaths and births is covered by Entry 30. The registration of marriage
would come within the ambit of the expression 'vital statistics'.
3. From the compilation of relevant legislations in respect of
registration of marriages, it appears that there are four Statutes which
provide for compulsory registration of marriage.
They are :
(1) The Bombay Registration of Marriages
Act, 1953 (applicable to Maharashtra and Gujarat),
(2) The Karnataka Marriages (Registration and Miscellaneous Provisions)
(3) The Himachal Pradesh Registration of Marriages Act, 1996, and
(4) The Andhra Pradesh Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2002.
In five States provisions appear to have been made for voluntary
registration of Muslim marriages.
These are Assam, Bihar, West Bengal,
Orissa and Meghalaya. The "Assam Moslem Marriages and Divorce
Registration Act, 1935," the "Orissa Muhammadan Marriages and Divorce
Registration Act, 1949" and the "Bengal Muhammadan Marriages and Divorce
Registration Act, 1876" are the relevant statutes. In Uttar Pradesh also
it appears that the State Government has announced a policy providing
for compulsory registration of marriages by the Panchayats and
maintenance of its records relating to births and deaths. Under the
Special Marriage Act, 1954 which applies to Indian citizens irrespective
of religion each marriage is registered by the Marriage Officer
specially appointed for the purpose. The registration of marriage is
compulsory under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872. Under the said
Act, entries are made in the marriage register of the concerned Church
soon after the marriage ceremony along with the signatures of birde and
bridegroom, the officiating priest and the witnesses.
The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act,
1936 makes registration of marriages compulsory. Under Section 8 of the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (in short the 'Hindu Act') certain provisions
exist for registration of marriages. However, it is left to the
discretion of the contracting parties to either solemnize the marriage
before the Sub-Registrar or register it after performing the marriage
ceremony in conformity with the customary beliefs. However, the Act
makes it clear that the validity of the marriage in no way will be
affected by omission to make the entry in the register. In Goa, the Law
of Marriages which is in force in the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu
w.e.f. 26.11.1911 continues to be in force. Under Articles 45 to 47 of
the Law of Marriages, registration of marriage is compulsory and the
proof of marriage is ordinarily by production of Certificate of Marriage
procured from the Register maintained by the Civil Register and issued
by the concerned Civil Registrar appointed for the purpose by the
The procedural aspects about
registration of marriages are contained in Articles 1075 to 1081 of the
Portuguese (Civil) Code which is the common Civil Code in the State. It
is pointed out in the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent-State
of Goa that the Hindu Act is not in force in the said State since it has
not been extended to the State either by the Goa, Daman and Diu Laws
Regulations, 1962 or by the Goa, Daman and Diu Laws No.2 Regulations,
1963 by which Central Acts have been extended to the State after the
liberation of the State. Procedure for marriage is also provided in Code
of Civil Registration (Portuguese) which is in force in the State. The
Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 also provides for registration of marriages.
4. As noted above, the Hindu Act
enables the State Government to make rules with regard to the
registration of marriages. Under Sub-section (2) of Section 8 if the
State Government is of the opinion that such registration should be
compulsory it can so provide. In that event, the person contravening any
rule made in this regard shall be punishable with fine.
5. In Various States different
marriage Acts are in operatione.g. in Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu and
Kashmir Hindu Marriage Act, 1980 empowers the Government to make rules
to provide that the parties (Hindus) shall have their particulars
relating to marriages entered in such a manner as may be prescribed for
facilitating proof of such marriages. Admittedly, no rules have been
framed. As regards Muslims, Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim
Marriages Registration Act, 1981 provides that marriage contracted
between Muslims after the commencement of the Act shall be registered in
the manner provided herein within 30 days from the date of conclusion of
Nikah ceremony. However, the Act has not been enforced. So far as
Christians are concerned, the Jammu and Kashmir Christian Marriage and
Divorce Act, 1957 provides for registration of marriages in terms of
Sections 26 and 37 for registration of marriages solemnized by Minister
of Religion and marriages solemnized by, or in the presence of a
Marriage Registrar respectively.
6. In exercise of powers conferred
by Section 8 of the Hindu Act the State of U.P. has framed U.P. Hindu
Marriage Registration Rules, 1973 which have been notified in 1973. In
the affidavit filed by the State Government it is stated that the
marriages are being registered after enactment of the Rules.
7. In Pondicherry, the Pondicherry
Hindu Marriage (Registration) Rules, 1969 have come into force w.e.f.
7th April, 1969. All Sub-Registrars of Pondicherry have been appointed
under Section 6 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 (in short the
'Registration Act') as Marriage Registrars for the purposes of
registering marriages. In the State of Haryana, the Haryana Hindu
Marriage Registration Rules, 2001 under Section 8 of the Hindu Act have
been notified. In the State of West Bengal, Hindu Marriage Registration
Rules, 1958 have been notified.
8. The position prevailing in
several States and Union Territories as follows:
"Accordingly, we direct the States and the Central Government to take
the following steps:
(i) The procedure for registration should be notified by respective
States within three months from today. This can be done by amending the
existing Rules, if any, or by framing new Rules. However, objections
from members of the public shall be invited before bringing the said
Rules into force. In this connection, due publicity shall be given by
the States and the matter shall be kept open for objections for a period
of one month from the date of advertisement inviting objections. On the
expiry of the said period, the States shall issue appropriate
notification bringing the Rules into force.
(ii) The officer appointed under the
said Rules the States shall be duly authorized to register the
marriages. The age, marital status (unmarried, divorcee) shall be
clearly stated. The consequence of non registration of marriages or for
filing false declaration shall also be provided for in the said Rules.
Needless to add that the object of the said rules shall be to carry out
the directions of this court.
(iii) As and when the central
Government enacts a comprehensive statute, the same shall be placed
before this court for scrutiny.
(iv) Learned counsel for various
States and Union Territories shall ensure that the directions given
herein are carried out immediately. "
9. Learned amicus curiae has made
reference to the status reports and affidavits filed by various states
and Union territories, and has brought this Court's notice that some of
the States have made registration of marriages by Hindus to be
registered compulsorily but it has not been done in respect of other
religions. By order dated 23.7.2007 with reference to the earlier order
dated 14.12.2006, it was directed that the marriages are to be made
compulsorily registrable in respect of persons who are citizens of India
even if they belonged to various religions. Direction was given to file
details of compliance.
10. From the details filed it
appears that States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Goa, Himachal
Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu,
Tripura have complied with the direction. So far as the state of West
Bengal is concerned, it has been submitted by the learned counsel for
the State that on 22.12.2006, changes have been made to the West Bengal
Special Marriages Rules, 1969, registration of Muslim marriages &
Divorces Registration Rules and Hindu Marriage Act for the purpose of
making marriages compulsorily registrable and providing for consequences
for not doing it. It has been pointed out that Christian and Parsi
marriages are solemnized through compulsory registration according to
the applicable statutes. Therefore no separate rules have been framed in
this regard. So far as other States and Union Territories are concerned,
some of them have not filed any affidavit and in respect of others, the
directions have been compiled with respect of Hindus. The directions
given by the order dated 24.2.2006 have not been fully complied with.
We, therefore, direct that the States and Union Territories who have not
acted in line with the directions given on 14.2.2006 shall forthwith do
it and in no case later than three months from today. It is ordered
11. Place this matter after four
12. The affidavits indicating
compliance shall be filed before the next date of hearing.
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