The Government of the Indian capital of Delhi ruled on July 5th that marriage registration would be made mandatory for all religious communities. This move has been long opposed by Muslim politicians as registering marriages would allow Muslim women to seek legal assistance in case of divorce.
“Everyone in the city, irrespective of their religion, has to get their marriage registered. Marriage registration has been made mandatory in compliance of the Supreme Court’s order,” said Dharam Pal, revenue secretary, Delhi government.
The former Congress government had attempted to pass a similar bill earlier but they failed to do so in the face of opposition from Muslim members of the legislative assembly who questioned the implications of the bill on the community. However, since the capital is currently under President’s Rule, the notification for mandatory marriage registration was issued without much resistance.
Shoaib Iqbal, one of the politicians who opposed the bill earlier, has decided to meet the lieutenant governor over this issue though.
“It is a sensitive issue and the administration should not have taken such a decision. They should have implemented it through a proper channel so that everyone had a say on it. Currently, there is no government in Delhi and the order should be put on hold till an elected government comes to power,” said Iqbal.
According to Iqbal, Muslims registering their marriages would lead to their women acquiring legal rights while dealing with a divorce or a second marriage.
“Among Muslims, the procedure of divorce is easy. But it will now become difficult under this rule. There are several communities and they all follow different rules for marriage. The government should not force them to follow one rule,” said Iqbal.
Iqbal deems it right that the government form a committee constituting members from every community and then seek advice from them over the issue. Government officials clarified that marriage registration has been made mandatory irrespective of caste, creed and religion of couples. Those who do not get their marriage registered within 60 days are privy to paying a fine of up to Rs 1,000 and those who falsely claim to have gotten then marriage registered will be fined or imprisoned even.
“Marriages that have taken place before will have to be registered. But they will be given sufficient time to get it done and will not be fined. It will also ensure justice to women deserted by their husbands,” said a government official.
Photo Credit: Jeff Belmonte