The Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act


Marriage is no longer a divine union that requires celestial blessings included in the various religious rituals associated with it. It has got far reaching legal consequences too. It is for this legal reason that we have to consider this law. Moreover, the growing number of divorce cases, cases regarding custody of children and maintenance, polygamy, and dowry deaths reveal that marriage is no longer considered as a divine union by the society. Hence let us not be under the illusion that this law would violate the sacredness of marriage rites.


As it is, any Indian citizen who opts to marry under the Special Marriage Act of 1954 automatically has the marriage registered by the marriage officers who has been specially appointed for the purpose.

The Indian Christian Marriages Act of 1872 also demands for compulsory registration of marriages. Accordingly entries are made in the marriage register of the church, soon after the ceremony along with the signatures of the bride, bridegroom, the officiating priest and witnesses. The Registration of marriages is mandatory under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936. Marriage being a civil contract for the Muslims, the qazi records the terms of the marriage in a nikahnama and hands it over to the married couple. It is only under the Hindu Personal Law that it is not compulsory to register the marriage.


Certain State governments have out of the their concern to stop the crimes committed against women and children made the registration of marriage compulsory. They believed that giving legal status to wedlock would strengthen the institution of marriage. Thus we had,

  • The Bombay Registration Marriages Act, 1953, which is applicable to the states of Maharashtra
  • The Karnataka Marriages Act enacted in 1976 and in force since 1983.
  • The Himachal Pradesh Registration of Marriage Act, 1997.
  • The Andhra Pradesh Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act 2002.


The non-registration of marriage under Hindu Marriage Act has given rise to two major problems.

The Hindu Marriage Act on bigamy has got many loopholes. The Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code also has some faults while dealing with the offence of remarriage of husband or wife when the either of them is alive. So far these laws required that certain ceremonies have to be performed for a marriage to be valid. These ceremonies could be done according to the caste and religion of the bride and the bridegroom. Unless these ceremonies are performed the marriage is considered to be invalid. This holds good for bigamous marriage too. Women are the primary victims of bigamous relationships and they are the most affected ones because of the non-registration of marriage. They find it difficult to get property or maintenance in case of dispute, as they are not able to produce any proof for the validity of their marriage. There are umpteen cases where the wives have lost their case because of their inability to prove their first or second marriage of their husbands.



The second major problem caused by the non-registration of marriage is the problem of Child marriage, which is indeed a serious national problem. It is estimated that almost half of all marriages that is conducted in India involves under-aged girls. The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 has prescribed 18 years as the minimum age for girls and 21 years for boys for getting married. This law is applicable all over India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The serious nature of the problem is evident, as states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh where child marriages are rampant haven’t opted…

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