Stern action awaits officials who refuse to register marriages on grounds of religion: MB Rajesh

Minister MB Rajesh (in pic) stated it was unacceptable for any officer to act against government policy. File Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Local Self-Government and Excise Minister M B Rajesh has warned of strict action against officials who refuse to register marriages citing the religion of the bride and groom or their parents.

The local self-government department issued a directive on November 23, 2021, to the officials concerned to register all marriages without verifying religion.

Provisions regarding conducting marriages without following religious customs had also been laid out in the proposal. The same has also been clearly explained in The Kerala Registration of Marriages (Common) Rules, 2008.

The minister sought an urgent report on the incident where an Udayamperoor couple approached the High Court concerning their marriage registration. A Kochi municipal secretary had refused to register the couple's marriage citing religion. The High Court, however, stated that neither the bride nor the groom needs to adopt the other's religion to register a marriage.

Rajesh stated it was unacceptable for any officer to act against government policy. "Officials' conduct should not discourage secular marriages. Ours is a country where every citizen has the right to marry and live with whomever they want. A marriage can be registered if the bride and groom present the documents required by the government and an ID to prove they are of legal age," said Rajesh. Any lapses in carrying out one's duties will be met with strong intervention, he added.

As per law, registrars in local self-government offices are not authorised to determine the validity of marriages. The affidavit presented by the bride and groom for registration does not have to state their religion, mode of marriage or the religion of their parents.

Proof of age is mandatory, and a certificate issued by a gazetted officer, MP, MLA or local body member is sufficient to prove a marriage has taken place.

Alternatively, a copy of a certificate issued by a religious authority or a marriage officer's certificate for ceremonies conducted under statutory provisions can be submitted as evidence. Nowhere is it stated to reveal one's religion or customs in the application for a marriage certificate.

However, it is alleged that some registrars check the couple's name and inspect documents like their school certificate to determine their religion.

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