Registration of marriages could bring with it a legal recognition and ease of access to benefits associated with the relation, just the way documentation helps us access the rights associated with the same in every other case. The Law Commission and the Apex Court too seem to enunciate views on pretty much the same wavelength.
Marriage Registration and financial security of women
Legal records and documentation ascribe legal recognition to an event in a person’s life such as birth, death or marriage. It ensures that the person associated gets the rights associated with such an event. For instance, if your birth is registered, you shall be eligible for the benefits available to a citizen. If the marriage is documented vide a marriage certificate, the process, the same ascribes legitimacy and contributes to parity and security since, say, the procedure for getting maintenance turns way easier. The United Nations had recognized the importance of recording vital events such as marriage.
The statutory framework and the effect of marriage registration
A marriage can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 covers Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists and covers their marriages within its ambit. Here, both the spouses should belong to any of these faiths. The couples out of the purview of the ones defined here are to come under the ambit of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. In cases of court marriages, the partners will have to apply to the court with the valid relevant proofs needed.
The registration of a marriage under either one of the acts involved causes the marriage to be deemed to have been solemnized under the act and deems the children born within the said wedlock as legitimate.
Documents Required for Marriage Registration
The basic documents required for marriage registration are proof of marriage, identity proof and proof of age. Acceptable proofs of marriage could be any proof such as the wedding invitation, temple marriage receipts or any other such proofs. Proof of address and age could be done through the filing of Aadhaar, driving license or passport. An affidavit stating place and date of marriage, marital status at the time of marriage, date of birth of partners and nationalities of both parties is to be filed. A signed certificate by the priest who conducted the marriage is to be given, where applicable. The said application, duly signed by the partners is to be filed along with the passport-sized photographs of the partners is to be filed along with these documents. Witnesses, with photographs and copies of PAN cards having to be filed, may also be required to corroborate the claim of marriage.
Certificate of conversion and copy of divorce order could be filed in cases where they are applicable. Death Certificate of the spouse is to be given if any of the partners is a widow or a widower. All the required documents are to be attested by a gazetted officer and attached along with a deposit of a fee with the cashier at the sub-registrar office at the time of filing of the application.
Online Marriage Registration
Offline Marriage Registrations could be time-consuming. Certain states have come up with online portals to register marriages. For instance, Kerala, my home state, has a civil registration portal to register marriages. The portal for registration in Delhi is here. The general procedure is to register on the website and then moving on to select the marriage registration application available on the websites. Further, after filling the details and date of appointment, submit the application. Appear with the supporting documents and finish the application. A portal can be found on the National Government Service Portal as well for marriage registration.
Checking Marriage Registration Status
The government’s E-governance initiatives have seen to it that stuff like checking marriage registration status and records could be done online. The National Government Service Portal has the facility to check the marriage records online, which could be used to check the marriage registration status.
Why do you need marriage registration? How does in ensure the financial stability of a married woman?
One of the sole reasons is the legitimacy ascribed to marriage, once the same is registered. In the year 2006, the Supreme Court had made registration of marriage mandatory. Even the Law Commission has emphasized on the same in its report on “Compulsory Registration of Marriages”. In Seema v. Ashwani Kumar, the Supreme Court took note of a few reasons why marriage registration would ensure a better, stable life for the female spouse. These benefits include access to claim their right to live in the matrimonial house, maintenance, etc., legitimate claim their inheritance rights and benefits which have to legally accrue to them post the death of their spouses. Furthermore, registration and the legal obligations which come with it prevent men from deserting women after marriage. This also prevents trafficking of women under the guise of marriage. Now let’s look briefly at each of the major benefits and why the registration becomes important in each of them.
A brief description of a few rights and benefits guaranteed under a registered marriage
Right to live in the matrimonial home: The Bombay High Court had declared that a married woman has the right to stay in her matrimonial home, no matter who owns the same. The home could be owned by the husband or the father in law; but the married woman gets to stay there.
Right to claim maintenance: Maintenance is an amount which the husband has to pay a wife who is not able to maintain herself, either during the subsistence of the marriage or post-divorce. There are provisions in the statutes for maintenance during the time period while litigation is going on (Temporary Maintenance Pendente Lite) and permanent maintenance awarded if the court decides so while disposing of a proceeding for divorce or separation. Furthermore, the Supreme Court had held that only a legally wedded wife can claim maintenance.
Inheritance: Every personal law, as well as the Indian Succession Act, bestows the married women with the right to inherit the property of their respective husbands if they die intestate. The spouses get to enforce this right if their marriage has been registered under the concerned Act. For instance, Hindu Law considers a widow as a Class I heir to her intestate husband’s property.
Live-in relationships are a state of the affairs where the partners in the relationship live together and enjoy the warmth of the relationship without choosing to be married to each other. The courts have over the years recognized live-in relationships. The right to maintenance within a live-in relationship is decided as per the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and individual facts of each case. The courts including the apex court have defined live-in relationships as a "relationship in the nature of marriage".
The case D.Velusamy vs. D.Patchaiammal elucidated on the requirement for a couple to hold out that they are living together like spouses. The apex court has also recognized certain kinds of live-in relations as a relationship "in the nature of marriage" and elucidated on the importance of considering other allied interpersonal facets of the case. The Velusamy case had awarded maintenance in a live-in relationship, relying on their conclusions based on the doctrine of Palimony. Hence, there is scope for maintenance in a live-in relationship as well, if the essential conditions are satisfied.
The registration of a marriage brings with it ease of access to the rights and benefits associated with the relationship since the registration ushers in a good deal of legal objectivity, enabling the law to come into play on much more solid ground. Hence, we can conclude that the Registration of Marriages does ensure the financial stability of a Married Woman.