Amid the Covid outbreak, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has permitted the registration of marriages through videoconferencing. A Division Bench has overruled a Single-Bench judgment that 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 Bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Archana Puri 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 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.
The matter was brought to the HC’s notice after Ami Ranjan and his wife Misha Verma filed an appeal through senior counsel Navniti Prasad Singh and advocate Nitin Kant Setia. The Bench was told that the wife, a medical professional, had been put on Covid-19 emergency duty in the United States.
It was added that Gurugram Deputy Commissioner-cum-Marriage Officer, in response to the petitioners’ request, intimated that there was no provision for registration of a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, without the parties appearing in person.
The Bench asserted 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.