28th April 2021
Amid the Covid outbreak, the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed registration of marriages through videoconferencing. Overruling a Single-Bench Judgment, the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed the registration of marriage of a couple through video-conference.
A Single-Bench judgment refused to permit the e-registration of marriage on the ground that the parties could not be exempted from being personally present before a marriage officer to sign the “marriage certificate book”.
The order was delivered on March 9 by a Bench of Justice Ritu Bahri & Justice Archana Puri while hearing a leave patent appeal. The Bench referred to a number of judgments before observing that it was possible for a person living thousands of kilometres away or anywhere in India to simultaneously communicate with another party.
The petitioners — Ami Ranjan & his wife Misha Verma — approached the Court, filing the appeal against the judgment of a single judge of the HC, whereby a writ petition, filed by the petitioners seeking quashing of the order issued by the Deputy Collector-cum-Marriage Officer, Gurugram, was dismissed. It was held that there was no provision for registration of the marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 without the parties appearing in person before the marriage officer.
In the plea, it was submitted that the wife, a medical professional, was on COVID-19 emergency duty in the United States & that the husband wanted to go there to meet his wife, but for that, he had to attach a marriage certificate along with an application for obtaining visa. In this backdrop, on account of lack of marriage certificate, the parties were facing unprecedented hardship.
The Bench observed that the husband was not seeking his wife’s complete exemption from appearance before the Registrar of Marriage. His prayer was that the wife should be allowed to appear through videoconferencing for marriage registration.
The presence of the wife could be secured through videoconferencing. The certificate of marriage could be issued after verification of facts as contemplated under the Special Marriage Act. Once the marriage certificate was issued, it could be made a part of the public record by entering it in the marriage certificate book.
The Bench added that technology enabled affected parties to attest documents digitally and ensure digitally secure transmission through the Internet. The objective and philosophy underlying the Information Technology Act was based on these developments. Against this backdrop, the registration of marriage of spouses separated by distance had to be addressed keeping in view the changing times.
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