Explainer: How to register a marriage in Mumbai

To register a marriage in Mumbai, partners have various options, depending on their religious beliefs and how they want to solemnise their union.

To register a marriage in Mumbai, the Maharashtra Regulation of Marriage Bureaus and Registration of Marriages Act, 1998 governs marriages in Maharashtra. There are other Acts, specific to religions, like The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 and the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1972. For inter-faith partnerships, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 is available to those who go in for inter-faith or inter-caste marriage or generally for standard Court marriages without any emphasis on personal beliefs.

What is the eligibility criteria for a couple to get married?

Men above 21 years of age and women above 18 years of age are eligible for marriage. Under the Special Marriage Act, of 1954, both partners have to be above 21 years of age. They have to declare mental stability in the marriage application form.

Marriages between relations of half, full, or uterine blood, are listed under the First Schedule of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and in the activities section of www.igrmaharashtra.gov.in as prohibited. Adv Pradeep Pandey, a lawyer handling marriage registration processes, says that most marriage formalities are based on self-declarations and not on verifications by the court. False declarations could lead to legal action. 

Does religion determine the appropriate Act for marriage registration?

People of all faiths, including atheists or agnostics, are free to marry under the Special Marriage Act, of 1954. Couples should bear Aadhaar cards and be ready to allow their biometric verification for marriage registration.

When does a marriage need to be registered?

Registration of marriages can be done either after a religious priest has solemnised the union, or, it can also be solemnised directly at the sub-registrar’s office, either at the Old Customs House (for those residing in Mumbai city) or at the Khar Telephone Exchange building (for those residing in Mumbai suburban). While the BMC has no provision to solemnise marriages, you can apply to register marriages that have already been conducted by a religious priest.

The residence of either partner will be considered for the jurisdiction of the marriage registration. Information on this is available on the website of the Registration and Stamps Department, in ‘Offices’ under the ‘Organisation’ column.

Which offices undertake registration?

This depends on religion. Christians, Parsis and Jews, who have been solemnised, need to register with the office of the Registrar General of Marriages at Pune online.

Priests of these religious establishments directly share details of marriages conducted by them with the Registrar General of Marriages at the office of the Inspector General of Registration and Controller of Stamps in Pune. The married couple has to apply for a copy of their registered marriage certificate either online or in-person in Pune by submitting details of their ceremony along with Form 16 to get it registered in government records. Marriage registrars from certain Christian denominations, like the Church of North India, directly apply for registration there and collect the marriage registration certificates from Pune and send it to the couple through their respective churches.

St Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai
Marriage registrars from the Church of North India directly apply for registration | Photo: Tom Thai, Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Marriages of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are registered with the local BMC ward office or here, under the Maharashtra Regulation of Marriage Bureaus and Registration of Marriages Act, 1998. The couple has to submit their photos with photos of the marriage card and contact details of the priest who solemnised their wedding. A translated copy of Nikahnama, the Muslim marriage certificate, if it is in Urdu, is also to be submitted. Inter-religious marriages are not registered under this Act unless either partner converts. They have to produce affidavits of conversion, along with an affidavit from the priest, who conducted the conversion. 

What if my marriage is not solemnised?

If your marriage is not solemnised by a religious priest, then you have the option of registered court marriage, which would be conducted by a designated marriage registrar, who is authorised by the Special Marriage Act, 1954. They’re a designated government official, either in the form of a Gram Sevak in a village panchayat or government officials designated as marriage registrar’s to register marriages in their jurisdictions.

How to initiate the process?

You may either file for registration online, with the forms available at ‘Draft Notices’ under the ‘Downloads’ column or directly at the registrar’s office at Khar or Fort. After applications, the documents are scrutinised and an appointment is granted. During the appointed time, the couple has to present original documents along with three witnesses. You can seek to have a proper court marriage where the couple is made to affirm before the registrar that they accept each other as partners. There is also a provision to summon a marriage registrar to a hall or home for conducting a marriage registration in the presence of three witnesses. A registered marriage certificate is provided after the marriage is officially recorded in the Marriage Register book.

Which documents are needed for the registration of marriage?

Apart from the Aadhaar details of both the bride and the groom, government-issued identity and address proof of both the bride and groom and the three witnesses, has to be submitted with the application. A copy of the age proof of the bride and groom in the form of their birth certificate or their school leaving certificate also needs to be submitted. 

What other documents could be required?

If the partners are divorcees, they need to submit a copy of their divorce decree. And if the partners are widows/widowers, they have to submit a copy of the death certificate of their earlier spouse.

How long can it take to register a marriage under the Act?

Following an application for marriage registration, a public notice is put out at the marriage registrar’s office for 30 days to invite objections about the scheduled marriage. If anyone objects, following the public notice, the registrar can refuse to register the marriage. Appeals can be escalated to the office of the Registrar General of Marriages, Pune, who is authorised to either overrule it or accept the order. Rejection can be challenged in the court to determine the course of action. According to Adv Pradeep Pandey, public notices generally don’t lead to any objections.

By when does a marriage have to be registered?  

A solemnised marriage should be registered with the government within 90 days to avoid. fines. If the registration is delayed beyond a year of solemnisation, a fine of Rs 200 could be levied.

What are the consequences of an unregistered marriage?

A marriage solemnised by a religious priest is held legal and valid only after the registration process with the government is complete. The marriage registration process is very important because it grants couple maintenance, inheritance, succession rights for children, etc. It is also important for processes such as joint loans and joint investments. Registration also helps in the handling of passports, visas and other international formalities.  

Read more: Rights to ancestral property: What every Indian woman must know

A detailed FAQ is available in the Citizen’s Area section of http://igrmaharashtra.gov.in, including brief provisions of the various Acts governing marriages. Alternatively, you can call on 8888007777 to clear your queries on all days between 7 am to 9 pm.

This explainer is part of a series on ‘Explainers and Information Resources for Mumbaikars’ supported by a grant from the A.T.E. Chandra Foundation.

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