Tamil Nadu

TN circular sneaks in parental consent in marriage registration

New hitch: Till now, only three witnesses were required for marriage registration.  

When Vikram and Sowmya (names changed) went to a sub-registrar’s office early last month to have their marriage registered, a week after their families held a grand wedding for them, they were asked to bring a parent along. “They insisted it would better if we bring a parent, preferably our fathers. So, we went back and returned with our fathers,” Vikram says.

Earlier, all that was required for registering a marriage were three witnesses. What has changed?

The additional requirement is due to an ‘internal circular’ from the office of the Inspector General of Registration, Tamil Nadu, dated September 28, 2017. The circular contains a checklist of documents that may appear innocuous. However, it has indirectly paved the way for registrars to ascertain if there is parental consent before registering Hindu marriages.

In the four-point circular, the first permits the Aadhaar card as an additional identity proof for the couple, parents and witnesses; the second point says the names, initials and address of the parents given in the application should tally with the details contained in the accompanying documentary proof, and that registration should be done only upon such verification. The third point demands that the couple produce the original death certificate of any of their parents mentioned as deceased, and attach a photocopy.

The upshot is that two consenting Hindu adults marrying without the knowledge of their parents will not be able to register their marriage, unless they have access to the original documents relating to their parent’s identity and address and, if any of them is no more, their death certificates.

This makes it practically impossible to register a marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), without parents knowing about it, says an official source. “See, it does not specify parental consent, but every point implies that. Couples can still register under the Special Marriage Act.”

Senior advocate in the Supreme Court, Indira Jaising, says this certainly amounted to introducing parental consent “by stealth”. “Registraars under a State Act or Hindu Marriage Act cannot insist on that, and consent of parents cannot be demanded if two persons are of the age of marriage.”

“The tragedy is the Hindu Marriage Act nowhere asks for consent of the woman herself as a condition of a valid marriage. Who knows, maybe, they still think a daughter is “given away” by the father as kanyadaan.” says Ms.Jaising.

“These are extraneous and totally unnecessary. The law does not contemplate any consent except that of the marrying couple. Witnesses are attesting as witness to registration and not as consenters,” says advocate Sudha Ramalingam. “The circular appears trivial on the face of it, but is fatal for couple wanting to marry without parental consent.”

“In the name of ID verification, these are paternalistic barriers to liberty brought in covert ways,” says advocate Akila Ramalingam, on reading the circular.

Additional Inspector General of Registration Jaffer Mohammad, however, denied that parental consent was mandatory. Only when the application says a parent is dead, they are required to produce a death certificate.” When asked about the logic of a circular that makes parental consent necessary by implication, Mr. Mohammad said, “The State government is not opposed to inter-caste marriages.”

But, sources at the Sub-Registrar’s office in a western district believe the circular was the result of “a lot of complaints from parents”.

Caste outfits have been asking for parental consent during registration of marriages in recent years.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 3:15:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-circular-sneaks-in-parental-consent-in-marriage-registration/article23035524.ece

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