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Law commission recommends compulsory registration of all marriages

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-07-2017 Shreya Agarwal

New Delhi: The law commission has recommended compulsory registration of all marriages to deal with social evils such as child marriages, bigamy and gender violence.

The existing law i.e. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886 provides for voluntary registration only.

In a report titled “Compulsory Registration of Marriage”, law commission said “while provisions for registration exist under various laws, however, there is no provision that provides for simply keeping a record of all marriages and is available to any and every individual in the country regardless of religion, region or customs.”

The commission recommended amending the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 to include compulsory registration of marriages in its purview.

Marriages under different personal laws will be recognized provided they are registered under the Compulsory Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Act.

The report refers to instances of France, Germany, Quebec, Italy and Portugal to highlight similar laws in these countries. It states that in the Indian context, such a law “enables social legislations to be effectively enforced.”

Following Supreme Court directions in a landmark case in 2006, states like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, and Tamil Nadu have already passed laws for compulsory registration of marriage.

The report said it recognizes that “conflict of laws is not simply between different personal laws but also various other enactments dealing with child marriage, dowry prohibition, and medical termination of pregnancy.”

The report said under existing laws, the “age of consent is 16, age for marriage is 18, however, if married, consent for sexual intercourse is deemed at 15.” However, it concludes simply by recommending “that these various overlapping and contradicting legislations be borne in mind while framing the rules of registration.”

“So far as marriages from now on are concerned, it’s a fantastic step. However, retrospective application of the law may result in absurdities,” said former West Bengal junior counsel Protik Prokash Banerjee.

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