Kerala High Court: In a writ petition filed being aggrieved by the refusal of registration of marriage by the Registrar as per the Kerala Registration of Marriages Rules, 2008 (‘Rules 2008’) as the parties belong to different religions, P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J. has observed that the only condition for the registration of the marriage as per Rule 6 of the Rules, 2008 is that the marriage is to be solemnized and the religion of the parties is not a consideration for registering marriages. Further, hyper technical defects shall not be raised while entertaining the applications for registration of marriage and because the father or mother of one of the parties to a marriage belongs to a different religion, it is not a reason to reject an application submitted for registration of the marriage as per the Rules, 2008.
The Registrar refused to register their marriage as per the Rules 2008, with a reasoning that the registration of marriage is possible only if it is solemnized as per the marriage laws in force; and stated that since the petitioners’ marriage was not conducted as per any personal laws of the parties or based on any statutory provisions, petitioners can register their marriage only as per the Special Marriage Act 1954.
The Court observed that the Rules 2008 were framed by the Government of Kerala based on the directions in Seema v. Ashwani Kumar, (2008) 1 SCC 180, and the registration of marriages as per these rules is mainly intended for the purpose of protecting the rights of women and children. It was also observed that as per Rule 6 of the Rules 2008, all marriages solemnized in the state after the commencement of these Rules shall compulsorily be registered irrespective of religion of the parties.
The Court examined all the provisos to Rule 6 and observed that for registration of the marriage under Rule 6, “solemnization of the marriage” is necessary. The Court viewed that in Deepu v. State of Kerala, 2012 SCC OnLine Ker 31624, observed that the circular issued by the Government to the effect that marriages solemnized between persons belonging to two different religions cannot be registered under the Rules 2008, is repugnant and contrary to the provisions contained in the Rules, 2008. Thus, marriages which are solemnized in the State of Kerala after the commencement of the Rules, 2008 shall be compulsorily registered under the said rules ,irrespective of the religion of the parties. Further, the Court examined Form no. 1 under Rule 9(3) and observed that there is no column in it which requires information about the religion of the parties.
Moreover, it observed that in case of marriage solemnized before the Marriage Officer, a certificate from the Marriage Officer is necessary and if solemnized as per religious rites, a copy of the certificate of marriage issued by the religious authority or a declaration from a gazetted officer/Member of Parliament/Member of Legislative Assembly/Member of Local Self Government Institutions in Form.II appended to the rules is sufficient as a proof of the marriage
The Court also referred to the decision in Seema’s case (supra) which led to the framing of the Rules, 2008, and wherein it was held that “the registration of the marriage as per the Rules itself cannot be a proof of valid marriage and would not be the determinative factor regarding the validity of a marriage” and observed that simply because the marriage is registered as per the Rules, 2008, it is not a proof of a valid marriage, and it is only for the purpose of protecting the interest of the children born out of that marriage and to prove the age of the parties to the marriage. Thus, it was held “because the father or mother of one of the parties to a marriage belongs to a different religion, it is not a reason to reject an application submitted for registration of the marriage as per the Rules, 2008”.
It was also noted that the respondents while registering the marriage as per the Rules 2008, should remember that our Country is a secular Country giving liberty to all citizens to adopt their own religion and to follow their own rites, customs, and ceremonies.
[Lalan P.R v. Chief Registrar General of Marriages, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 5246, decided on 12.10.2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate C.A. Chacko
Advocate C.M. Charisma
Advocate N.A. Shafeek
Advocate K.S. Saleesh
For the Respondent: Government Pleader .K.M. Faisal