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veenzar (Advocate)     26 October 2008

Laws governing registration of marriages in India

What are the laws governing the registration of marraiges for Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc.?


 8 Replies

Prakash Yedhula (Lawyer)     26 October 2008

Registration of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh Marriages

A. Hindu Marriage Act 1955 


Hindu law was first codified in the princely state of Baroda under the title “Baroda Hindu Nibandh 1937”. Before that the Mysore State had enacted a Hindu Law (Women’s Rights) Act 1933. In what was called ‘British India’ a number of laws were enacted one after the other to reform certain aspects of the Hindu law of marriage. None of the local and central laws referred to above contained any requirement for registration of marriages with the State authorities. The first law making a provision for registration of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh marriages was the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 enacted after Independence. 


The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 does not apply in the State of Goa and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu. In Puducherry it does not apply to the ‘Renoncants’ (those who opted for the local Franco-Indian law at the time of the assimilation of the territory into the Indian Union in 1954). The State of Jammu and Kashmir has got its own Hindu Marriage Act enacted on the pattern of the central Act.

For the purpose of facilitating the proof of Hindu marriages” Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 enabled the State governments to make Rules for optional registration of marriages, “in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed,” by getting their particulars entered in a Hindu Marriage Register kept for the purpose. Such Registers “shall at all reasonable times be open for inspection and shall be admissible as evidence of statements therein contained.” Certified copies of entries in the Register would be provided on payment of a fee.


The Act further empowered the State Governments to issue a “direction” to make registration of marriages compulsory “if it is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do.” The Government could take such an action either for the whole State or for any part thereof and could also decide whether registration will be compulsory “in all cases or in such cases as may be specified.” If a State 

Government issued such a direction for compulsory registration of marriages, its violation would be punishable with a fine of Rs. 25. Non-registration of a marriage in any case will not, however, affect the validity of any marriage. As ordinarily the Hindu Marriage Act does not apply to the Scheduled Tribes, tribal marriages remained outside the scope of Section 8 of the Act and the Rules framed thereunder by the State Governments. 

B. Hindu Marriage Registration Rules


The States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were the first to make Rules under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, both in 1956. The latter State replaced its Rules by new Rules made in 1984. Gradually almost all States made the required Rules, but provisions of the various State Rules have not been uniform. The Assam Hindu Marriage Rules 1961, for instance, provided that “notwithstanding anything contained in the Act and these Rules, registration of Hindu marriages in Assam, excepting those areas where the Registration Act 1908 does not apply, shall be optional” (Rule 19).

The Kerala Hindu Marriage Registration Rule 1957 classified various regions in the State into “Compulsory Registration Areas” (where the Government can make registration of all marriages compulsory) and “other areas” (where registration is optional). Registration of marriages was kept optional under the Rules made by most of the other States including the West Bengal Hindu Marriage Registration Rules 1958, Andhra Pradesh Hindu Marriage Registration Rules 1965, Karnataka Registration of Hindu Marriages Rules 1966, and Uttar Pradesh Hindu Marriage Registration Rules 1973. In later years some States but not all provided rules for compulsory registration, or selectively compulsory, governed by the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 It was only after the Supreme Court directive of 2006 that the remaining State Governments began initiating action in this regard. The Rules made under the Hindu Marriage Act generally mention the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages appointed and working under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1886 as the supervisory and appellate authority in respect of Marriage Officers in the State. Some of these laws require Marriage Officers to transmit their records to the Registrar-General at prescribed intervals.


C. Special and Local Laws

The Anand Marriage Act 1909, still in force, was passed to recognize Sikh marriages performed by the religious rites known as “Anandkaraj.” It, however, contained no provision for registration of any such marriage. Recently some Sikh leaders have demanded that the 1909 Act should be enlarged into a full-fledged “Sikh Marriage Act” and registration of all Sikh marriages should be made under that law.

The Arya Marriage Validation Act 1937 was passed to recognize inter-caste and inter-sect marriages among the Hindus. Strangely, this Act which remains in force said nothing about the well-established Arya Samaj system of certification of marriages.

Marriages governed by both these Acts can, of course, be registered under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the State Rules made under that provision. So can the marriages among the Brahmosamajis who also have their own system of certification of marriages. Both the Aryasamajis and the Brahmosamajis are specifically described by the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 as “forms” or “developments” of the Hindu religion -- while the Act applies, besides the Hindus, also to the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs (Section 2). 

In Jammu and Kashmir the local Hindu Marriage Act 1980 dittoed almost all provisions of the central Hindu Marriage Act 1955 as originally enacted. Section 8 of the State Act literally reproduced Section 8 of the central Act relating to registration of marriages. The State Government has not provided for compulsory registration of any marriage governed by the local Hindu Marriage Act.


K.C.Suresh (Advocate)     27 October 2008

Dear Prakash

i must congratulate you for giving detailed descriptive anweres. really it is a good venture. Wish you a happy diwali.

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     27 October 2008

Well research work in the topic earned through hard work. Great work. WISHING YOU A BLESSED HAPPY DIWALI.

jaimin d. patel (project consultant)     29 September 2009

currently i m working as a govt of gujarat project consultant of tribal development department and will marry with a europe born indian girl in february question is wt is the procedure of marrying with a europe girl and wt are the forms require for marriage which helps me to acquire visa and citizen ship of that nation

jaimin d. patel (project consultant)     29 September 2009

i want answer from specialise person in that field,,,

amit badola (owner)     13 March 2010

sir, i have a marriage certificate (form-3) with sealed signed by registrar of marriages from Rajsamand, Rajasthan. However, UK Visa Authorities says the certificate is invalid. Could you please let me know what additional proofs one can submit along with the marriage certificate. Could you tell me the relevant rules under the Rajasthan Hindi Marriage Registration Rules 1956 on this. Also, if you could provide me the link to the Rajasthan Hindi marriage Registration Rules 1956 would be helpful. Thanks, Amit

Kamal Grover (Advocate High Court Chandigarh M:09814110005     15 March 2010

Dear Amit

If your marriage is registered then They cannot refuse but there must be some address problem. plz check both the address mentioned in the registered certificate and your passport etc.


amit badola (owner)     16 March 2010

thanks for the revert. I have checked and the marriage certificate and the passport have same address. I guess because of the hindi language of certificate they might not have accepted the same. I am in process of getting the certifcate reissued in english language. howevevr, are there any other proofs one can submit  along with the same to assure UK authorities. Thanks, Amit

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