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India: Supreme Court Rules on Mandatory Marriage Registration

(Nov. 2, 2007) On October 25, 2007, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all marriages must be registered without any exception for any religion. The court directed all states and union territories to enact legislation within three months to make registration of all marriages compulsory. The Supreme Court in February 2006 had ordered states and union territories to make registration of all marriages compulsory, but not all of them had complied with this order with respect to all religions, and therefore the Court issued a new order requiring them to comply within three months.

In spite of registration being a simple process, the vast majority of Indians choose not to register their marriage. According to recent news, in New Delhi, out of 50,000 weddings each year, only approximately 1,500 marriages are registered. The court's ruling is expected to reduce instances of child marriages, bigamy, unlawful abandonment, and cases of domestic violence. (J. Venkatesan, Register All Marriages: Supreme Court, The Hindu (Oct. 26, 2007), available at http://www.hindu.com/2007/10/26/stories/2007102656810100.htm.)