Marriage and the Law

Marriages, they say, are made in heaven. But that is the spiritual aspect of marriages. A practical problem a person intending to get married faces is the legal formalities involved in doing so. Most people would not like to start their married life with legal complications, and for that reason it is useful to know the law so that one can abide by it.

Marriages in Goa are compulsorily registerable. Only a civil registration of marriages in Goa is accepted as evidence of the marriage. Like births and deaths, marriages also have to be registered to create legal rights.

This law which requires registration is the Code of Civil Registration. Chapter VII prescribes that the registration of the marriages shall be made in accordance with the Decree Law No. 1, dated 25th December, 1910. 

In every taluka, there are offices of the Civil Registrar, where the marriages are to be registered. Those who desire to marry have to declare their desire before the Officer  of the Taluka chosen, alongwith (1) a certificate of domicile of residence & (2) the certificates of birth.

Thus, the first requirement is that you must obtain the birth certificates of both the boy and the girl and the domicile certificate of any one party. If the birth was not registered, a slightly lengthy procedure has to be followed. Firstly, you will have to secure a NIL registration certificate from the Civil Registration Office that your Birth is not registered. This will then have to be produced before the Mamlatdar of the taluka with an affidavit that your birth was never registered earlier and your actual birthdate. Thereupon, the Mamlatdar will order your birth to be registered and this will enable you to obtain the birth certificate.

This certificate is to be obtained from the Talathi of the taluka, that you reside in that taluka. At  least   one of the parties must produce the Domicile certificate to facilitate the Registration of the Marriage.

If the office selected for the purpose of the marriage is not of the domicile of both, the officer shall send copies thereof to the offices of domicile and birth of the parties.

The Law of Marriage in Goa treats a Marriage as a CIVIL CONTRACT, solemnised between two persons or different sex, with the purpose of legitimately constituting a family.
Any boy who is 21 years of age or more and any girl who is 18 years of age or more, can enter into a marriage. In the case of a girl above 18 but below 21 years, she will require the consent of her parents or where such consent is not given, she will have to approach the Court. A boy and girl above 21 years can marry without consent of the parents. A person who has previously married and the marriage is not dissolved, cannot marry again. So also legitimate or illegitimate brothers and sisters cannot marry each other.

The persons getting married will have to appear themselves or through their attorneys before the Civil Registrar. If the consent of parents is necessary as discussed above, they will have to remain present. Besides, there have to be four witnesses for the ceremony of the registration, who know the parties marrying and who know that they are not married earlier. 

Before the date of registration of the marriage, the Civil Registrar shall affix a Public Notice on the office, inviting objections if any, within 10 days. This is known as the EDITAL period.

If a party is in a hurry to get married, he has to make an application before the Delegado, i.e. the Asst. Public Prosecutor of the taluka, who is empowered, and he can give exemption from waiting for the said 10 days. It is then possible to register the marriage immediately, probably even on the same day you first approach the Registrar.

The above provisions for marriage apply for all religious communities in Goa. There is also no obstacle legally for a person of one religion, say a Hindu to marry a person of another religion. Thus inter-religious marriages are not prohibited under the Civil Law.

It must however be noted that there are special provisions in Goa for Catholic marriages. Catholics in Goa can marry as per the colonial laws. Both will have to be Catholics or convert as Catholics. Such marriages will produce all civil effects. The parishes are considered as offices of Civil Registration and the marriages are solemnised in the Church. But a certificate will have to be produced from the office of the Civil Registrar that there is no objection for solemnisation of the marriage. It is common knowledge that the wedding banns or notices are read out in the church on two Sundays before the marriage, calling for any objections.

If a foreigner wants to marry a Goan, in Goa, besides the birth certificates of both, the domicile certificate of the Goan and the passport of the foreigner will be required. The foreigner will have to apply to Court under Article 248 of the Civil Registration Code. The Court on being satisfied that the foreigner is not previously married, (the passport will indicate this) and that the marriage is not barred under the law of his country, will grant the certificate to get married. This will have to be tendered before the Civil Registrar.

The civil law of a person follows the person. But Goans residing outside Goa, normally get married under the laws of that place, and do not bother to register their marriages in Goa. It is advisable that the marriages are also registered formally in Goa, by producing the marriage certificate from outside Goa.

No doubt, our law has been so interpreted if two persons have been living openly as husband and wife, they can legally be presumed to be actually married and this will cure any defect of non-registration.

  By Jyoti Dhond