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Compulsory registration of marriages to prevent fraud, Law Commission recommends

New Delhi: Batting for making registration of marriages compulsory, the Law Commission today said this will help prevent “marriage fraud” and protect women often denied the status of a wife due to the absence of matrimonial records.

In its report submitted to the Law Ministry today, the panel said in the absence of compulsory registration, women are duped into marrying without performance of the conditions of a valid marriage.

“This deprives women of societal recognition and legal security. Such fraudulent marriages are especially on rise among non-resident Indians. Compulsory registration can serve as a means to ensure that conditions of a valid marriage have been performed,” the report said.

The panel, which advises the government on complex legal issues, said it is of the opinion that compulsory registration of marriages is a “necessary reform”. It said a minor amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 by including the provision of compulsory registration of marriage would serve the purpose.

It made it clear that there is no need to amend the personal laws dealing with marriages.

The report pointed out that the courts have time and again emphasised on making registration of marriage compulsory to prevent denial of status to women and to children born out of wedlock.

“Instances of marriage fraud have also come to light in recent times. In the absence of compulsory registration, women are duped into marrying without performance of the conditions of a valid marriage,” it said.

In 2006, the Supreme Court in Seema vs Ashwani Kumar had observed that marriages of all persons who are citizens of India belonging to various religions should be registered compulsorily in their respective states, where the marriage is solemnised.

In 2012, a bill was tabled in Parliament based on the observations made by the Supreme Court. The bill was introduced to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to provide for compulsory registration of marriages irrespective of religious denominations of the parties.

The amendment bill was passed by Rajya Sabha in July 2013, but could not be taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha. It lapsed on the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.

The panel pointed out that in India, because of its size, population and the sheer diversity of customary forms of marriages, it has often been canvassed that such an endeavour to register all marriages would be difficult.

“However, the difficulty in implementation does not overshadow the merits of such an enactment. Once enacted, the amended law would enable better implementation of many other civil as well as criminal laws.

“It would provide citizens, not new rights but better enforcement of existing rights under various family laws that grant and provide to protect many rights of spouses within a marriage,” the commission said.

With inputs from PTI