Special Correspondent

It is a simple procedure soon after the ceremony

No foreign embassy grants visa to a spouse without proof of marriage In divorce and alimony cases, courts may insist on seeing the marriage certificate

Bangalore: For many newly weds, the first journey from the wedding hall is to the registrar's office. Some even try to bring the registrar or one of his staff to the wedding. Once the knot is tied, the couple signs the register, duly witnessed.

While registration under the Special Marriages Act has been the norm for many years now, it was not mandatory for Hindu marriages until the Supreme Court decreed it recently.

A senior lawyer says: "Registration used to be more common among affluent Hindus for reasons of succession to property and so on, and in the case of remarriage after the death of a spouse or divorce. Courts, of course, do issue a certificate of divorce, and most educated families want this evidence in case of a second marriage.''

Where the marriage certificate does help is in the case of a husband working and living overseas on a work permit or long-term residence visa and wants the wife to join him. No foreign embassy or consulate grants visa to a spouse without proof in the form a marriage certificate.

"In cases of divorce, legal separation, alimony, or custody of children, courts may insist on seeing the marriage certificate,'' explains a woman lawyer specialising in family court matters.

Lawyers are divided in their views about whether registration of marriages can be with retrospective effect or only for those conducted after the Supreme Court directive. The law does allow for marriages to be registered some years later, but different States have different procedures.Registration is simpler soon after the ceremony when the wedding invitation will suffice as proof.

The procedure is fairly simple. You can obtain a form from the sub-registrar's office closest to your residence and submit it soon after the ceremony. You can also go straight from the ceremony if prior notice has been given.

A Notice of Intended Marriage Form is available, and it can be submitted 30 days later.

Within a maximum of 90 days, the couple can appear at the sub-registrar's office, with witnesses, and get a marriage certificate. The fee for obtaining a certificate under the Hindu Marriage Act is Rs. 95. The forms are priced at Rs. 15 each.