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WOULD FOREIGN MARRIAGE ACT, 1969 COVER VIRUSHKA WEDDING ?

DURING second week of Dec, 2017  the long-awaited wedding bells rang  for sweet love-birds viz. Indian cricketer Virat Kohli and bollywood actress Anushka Sharma who solemnized their marriage as per Hindu rituals at a far-flung luxurious resort at Tuscany in  Italy, a practice which of late is being widely termed as “Destination Wedding” and which is usually adopted by high class celebrities and couples belonging to super-elite families.  But amidst all the unwarranted media-hype which has been given to Viruksha  (term coined by fusion of Virat and Anushka) marriage not only on social media but also in sections of  mainstream media, this writer-advocate would like to raise a significant point. As both Virat and Anushka are original natives of Delhi although  they use to currently  reside in tinsel town of Mumbai, so  they would  have to get their marriage registered either in the national capital or else in Mumbai within a stipulated period as prescribed. Pertinent that although non-registration of any marriage does not makes any marriage invalid or illegal but since over a decade back, the Supreme Court directed all marriages solemnized across the country to be registered compulsorily.  Now the point is that  if any marriage which is duly solemnized, notwithstanding with how so much fanfare and hullabaloo and irrespective at whatever “dream-destination’ in the world, can’t be deemed to have been legally solemnized in India at least for its registration purposes as far as the  Indian laws of marriage registration are concerned. This is because for every marriage to be duly registered in has to be solemnized within such State/UT or NCT as the case may be. The Delhi (Compulsory Registration of Marriage) Order, 2014  specifies that all  marriages “solemnized in Delhi”, irrespective of caste, creed and religion professed by parties to the marriage shall be compulsorily registerable. Similarly Maharashtra Regulation of Marriage Bureaus and Registration of Marriages Act, 1998 also prescribe that every marriage in the State shall be registered with the Registrar of marriages. So one wonders if this newly wed couple would rather have to re-solemnize their marriage, of course for registration purposes, in accordance with the mandate and text of the marriage registration order or rules, as applicable in Delhi or Maharashtra ( read Mumbai). Now, if the wedding reception or else any formal get-together as thrown by them in Delhi or Mumbai would be considered as proof of their solemnization or marriage or else something more than that needs to be done by both remains to be seen. One more significant aspect warrants due mention here. This writer also comprehends that if Foreign Marriage Act (FMA), 1969, which is a duly enacted law by Parliament to govern marriages of citizens of India outside of India, would be applicable in case of Virushka ? Also three years back, Rani Mukerjee and Adiya Chopra too solemnized their marriage similarly in Italy, but it is still unknown where or if they got their marriage registered.  Actually these two cases apart, such sort of  complexity would be come into place for every marriage as solemnized between two Indians ( of course a male and female), who though are bonafide citizens of India but have solemnized their wedding outside India. Be that as it may, in order to clarify this conundrum, this advocate  filed an online RTI with Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on 13 Dec, 2017  seeking information firstly as regards the names of whatever or whosoever diplomatic or consular officers who have been appointed as Marriage Officers, if any, in the country of Italy by the Central Government under Section 3 of the FMA, 1969  and next if there has been compliance of all mandatory formalities/obligations by concerned Marriage Officer as mandated under relevant provisions of FMA, 1969 with respect to solemnization of marriage of Virushka. The MEA  transferred the RTI the very next day to Embassy of India at Rome which on 4 Jan, 2018 though provided the names of Marriage Officers as appointed both at Embassy of India at Rome and Consulate-General of India at Milan but as regards the other point, it has been merely replied that the Embassy of India, Rome has no official information regarding the same. Although this advocate has since filed a first appeal under RTI with Deputy Chief of Mission at Rome which is yet to be decided till the writing of the piece, but the larger question remains is that would provisions of FMA, 1969 come into play in cases where two Indians decide to solemnize their marriage outside of India, at least for the purposes of registration of the marriage.

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