Over the past 24 hours a number of media outlets (here, here and here) have reported that the latest Law Commission report addressing the Centre’s proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 to include compulsory marriage registration has recommended mandatory linking of Aadhaar with marriage registration records. However, these reports are incorrect and do not provide the entire context of the Law Commission’s recommendations.
In regards to feasibility of IT-enabled registration of marriages, the Law Commission has made two key observations:
7.4 Some States already provide web portals for online registration of marriages, but it would be desirable to have a centralised national portal for maintenance of records such as registration. The Commission is of the opinion that availability of forms and documents in vernacular languages must be ensured to make the said portal easily accessible to all citizens.
7.5 Also, if registration of marriage is linked to the unique identification number (UID), it would be possible to achieve universal tracing of records.
So, the linking of Aadhaar with marriage registration is not mandatory, it is an option that the Law Commission feels can be useful in achieving “universal tracing of records”. In its actual set of recommendations, the Law Commission doesn’t mention Aadhaar at all, but does reiterate the point about the need for automating the marriage registration process, as well as those for birth and death:
8.11 The Law Commission of India is of the opinion that compulsory registration of marriages is a necessary reform and recommends the amendment of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 suitably to include compulsory registration of marriage as well within its scope so that existing administrative machinery is able to carry out registration. Further, for this purpose i.e. compulsory registration of marriages including births and deaths the Commission recommends adoption of complete automation process by using the process of paperless documentation to the greatest extent possible.
Note that earlier this year, the Chief Information Commission has asked the government and marriage registration authorities to raise awareness and provide publicity through various media that Aadhaar is not compulsory for the purpose of marriage registration scheme. The commission ruled that the compulsory registration of marriages helps tackle various issues like child marriage, marriage without consent, bigamous marriages, etc., and as such, the government should make it easier and more convenient to facilitate the registration, by not requiring other documents like Aadhaar and making changes for online application for marriage under the Special Marriage Act etc.
Ankita Anand and Nachiket Udupa’s experience while trying to register their marriage sans Aadhaar, back in 2015, further illustrates why we should to be sceptical about the government’s push for making Aadhaar mandatory for almost everything. They were categorically told by an additional district magistrate (ADM) in Delhi that he can’t process their marriage application without Aadhaar. He added that “since the software in which he had to key in the information to register our application would not allow him to proceed unless an Aadhaar number was keyed in first.” But a few days later, and after they had argued their case interminably that they do not wish to submit their Aadhaar numbers, a simple and at the same time scary solution was found. They were told that if they “were determined to register our marriage without the Aadhaar, all they had to do was key in dots instead of digits in the box provided.”
Aadhaar mandatory for marriage registration in Uttar Pradesh?
It looks like the Government of Uttar Pradesh has made Aadhaar mandatory for registration of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The government’s Stamp and Registration Department website provides a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for newly weds, which states:
Yes, Husband and wife both should have valid Aadhaar card number. This Aadhaar card number will be used during the entire marriage registration process.
Aadhaar card number must be linked with mobile number.
After receiving OTP on the husband and wife’s mobile, applicant then requests to enter OTP (one time pin) so that application can get husband and wife Aadhaar card data details.
Note: In case if Aadhaar card does not hold email id still applicant may apply.