Bill soon to make marriage registration must

Bill soon to make marriage registration must

The Centre will soon move a bill in Parliament to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include listing of marriages in its ambit and thus provide for yet another way to officially recognise weddings, notwithstanding the religion of the bride or groom. 

A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the bill, which seeks to enable the existing administrative mechanisms to carry out registration of marriages and maintain necessary records and statistics.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said that the amendment to the 1969 Act will help save women from unnecessary harassment in matrimonial and maintenance cases. It will also provide evidentiary values in matters related to ages of the individuals tying the nuptial knot, custody of children and right of children born out of wedlock of two persons who had their marriage registered.

Sibal said that the government would introduce the bill in Parliament when the Budget Session resumes after the recess.

The weddings of Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are currently registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. There are separate legislative frameworks for registration of marriages of Muslims, Parsis, Christians and Jews.

The Special Marriage Act 1954 also provides for a religion-neutral registration of weddings. The 1969 Act provides for regulation of registration of births and deaths and also for an establishment, comprising the Registrar-General, the Chief Registrar and the Registration Division, District Registrars and Registrars. 

Procedures for registration of births and death and for maintenance of records and statistics are also provided for in the Act.

Besides, rules for compulsory registration of births and deaths have been framed by all state governments and Union Territory administrations in accordance with Section 30 of the Act. Sibal said that an amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include registration of marriages, will enable the existing administrative mechanisms to carry out registration of marriages too. He, however, clarified that the registration of marriages  under the proposed amended Registration of Births and Deaths Act would not affect any right recognised or acquired by the bride or groom under any law, custom or usage.

The 18th Law Commission in its 205th report recommended that “registration of marriages within a stipulated period, of all the communities, namely Hindu, Muslim, Christians and others be made mandatory by the government”. The panel in its 211th report recommended a “Marriage and Divorce Registration Act” to be passed by Parliament and to be made applicable across the country and to all citizens.

The Supreme Court in its February 2, 2006 judgment in Seema versus Ashwani Kumar directed the Central and state governments that registration of marriages of all citizens belonging to various religious denominations be made compulsory in their respective states, where such marriages were solemnised. 

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