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Single law to list marriages

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SAMANWAYA RAUTRAY   |   Delhi   |   Published 31.10.08, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Oct. 31: The Law Commission of India wants the Centre to draw up a uniform legislation to make registration of marriages and divorces compulsory.

Most states have framed laws making marriage registration compulsory, irrespective of religion, following a Supreme Court directive.

The law commission has gone a step ahead, suggesting that the Centre put together a uniform law to make registration of divorces mandatory as well.

The panel noted that most communities still follow the practice of out-of-court divorces, leaving “abundant room for misuse of law” and causing “great hardship to women”.

In its report submitted to law minister H.R. Bhardwaj, the panel said the multiple laws relating to registration of marriages make things “complicated and confusing” for officials and the public.

Many people, the report pointed out, are under the misconception that registration would make the marriage a civil one, thus denying the couple inheritance and succession rights guaranteed under personal laws.

Registration of marriages is currently regulated by one of three central laws — the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886, the Registration Act, 1908, and the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 — or a local law or a combination of both.

Only Muslim and Parsi personal laws provide for registration of divorces, though the practice has mostly remained dormant.

The 18th law commission recommended a “marriage and divorce registration act”, which should apply to the “whole of India and all citizens irrespective of their religion and personal law and without any exceptions or exemptions”.

The proposed law should deal only with registration of marriages and divorces and not with “any substantive aspect” — such as succession and inheritance — now governed by various matrimonial laws, it said.

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