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Get marriage papers via video-conference

New Delhi, Feb. 10: If marriages can be held via Facebook and divorces over Twitter, marriage certificates can be issued via video-conferencing.

At least, Delhi High Court’s Justice Manmohan thinks so. Hearing the case of a newly married couple based in Canada, he said they could be issued marriage registration certificates in absentia.

The court said the rule mandating that couples must be physically present while applying for registration was “framed at a time when technology was nascent, developments that have changed the world and the way we view the world today were unimaginable….

“It is possible for a person living thousands of kilometres away from Delhi or anywhere in India to simultaneously communicate with another party. Also, technology has enabled parties today to attest documents digitally and ensure digitally secure transmission through Internet….

“In these circumstances, the inaction or indifference of the State to recognise these developments and provide for a suitable mechanism to facilitate registration of marriage of spouses separated by distance has to be addressed.”

The court was hearing a petition filed by Ravinder Chadha, who sought permission to exempt his Canada-based daughter and son-in-law from personal appearance for their marriage registration and asked if they could do it via video-conferencing.

“The law has to adapt to changing times. Here, the requirements spelt out half a century ago are acting as impediments, even though technology has enabled myriad solutions to the authorities.

“It is open to evolve a suitable mechanism with a mix of technology by incorporating video-conferencing, authentication of identities by embassies and attestation of signatures in a similar manner,” the judge said.

He directed the registrar “to satisfy himself about the legality and validity of the power of attorney as well as the marriage of the daughter and son-in-law of the petitioner through video-conferencing facility”.

The court said: “We cannot allow the dead hand of the past to stifle the growth of the living present.”

Aakash Mehra, who married last year, is hopeful that technology will make the “long and tedious” process of registering marriages easier.

“The list of documents required for marriage registration in Delhi is different in every zone. Delhi government has published a checklist on its website as it is different in different areas.

“Anyway, after I got my documents in order, we went to the additional district magistrate’s office, taking the day off. I found that the application form I had downloaded was the wrong one. Then we had to give some additional documents that we didn’t know about.

“We also had to get someone with a PAN card who was present at our wedding. We even had an argument over the size of the photographs,” said Mehra.

“By then, I had had enough. Next day, I went alone, paid some money to the clerk, got another date. On that day, I received my marriage certificate. Technology will streamline these processes and hopefully, this order will someday become the norm.”