Use the law to get your marriage certificate anytime

I was married on 8 May 1979 at Ambala. I am based in Mumbai and have two sons and a grandson. I do not have a marriage certificate and need one. How do I go about getting it?

LRC’s Reply: If someone says “I have done a court marriage,” what he means is that he has got married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA). Here, the marriage is not solemnised according to religious rites. The parties to the marriage can retain their religion even after marriage. Children born to such couples (of different religions) get their father's religion by birth.

Persons like you, who have become a father (or a grandfather), should register their marriage under the SMA, by filling Form No16, by giving one month’s notice for intended registration of the marriage, at sub registrar’s office (marriage office).

This is because, in your marriage registration certificate, you will have not only yours and your wife’s name but also your children’s names with their age, at the time of your marriage registration. Therefore, your marriage certificate, under SMA, is like a government-approved family certificate.  

The Process
You will have to give notice in Form 16, to the marriage officer, in triplicate. In each copy of Form 16, you need to affix your and your wife's photograph. Fill all the entries correctly, such as your wife's full maiden name, her full married name and your present address.

With your marriage notice, you need to enclose one attested set of documents for both, the husband and wife, including copies of address, age and identity proof (voter’s card or passport are the best, as they give address proof, age proof and identity proof in one document), school-leaving certificate (for age proof of both, and your wife’s maiden name proof).

You will have to show the original documents of all the attested copies to the marriage officer, who will accept the notice, after verifying all the proofs.

 The marriage officer will give you the date and time for the marriage registration. This date will be within 30 days and not later than 90 days of giving the notice.

 On the day of the registration, you and your wife, along with three adults (above age of 18 years) as witnesses, will need to go to office of the registrar of marriages, for the registration. You and your wife need to carry all the original documents, whose copy you have submitted while giving the notice for your intended marriage registration. Your witnesses will also need to carry documents like their age proof, address proof and photo identity proof with them, along with one attested copy of each of the document.
Witnesses’ documents required are the same as the husband and wife’s documents and, if the witnesses have their passport, that single document will serve the purpose.

After you have filled in all the documents as required for marriage registration and paid the required fees, take the date on the reverse of the fee receipt, to get your marriage registration certificate. To take your marriage registration certificate, any one of the five (you two and your three witnesses) can go to the registration office, with your fee receipt on the day on which you are called.

We also suggest that you to apply for at least two copies of the marriage registration certificate, after your registration formalities are completed, so that husband and the wife will have one copy each with them.

Have a legal question? Try  Moneylife Foundation’s Legal Resource Centre. Check out and register at


MLF seminar on How To Win Your Case In a Consumer Court: Insight from Consumer Cases

Consumer lawyer and activist Jehangir Gai shared his long experience of fighting for the consumer and the intricacies of pleading one’s case in consumer courts, to a packed audience

As consumers, we often find ourselves on the back foot, when dealing with deficient services or products. Often, we do not know of our legitimate rights and avenues of redress under the Consumer Protection Act. Jehangir Gai, an experienced consumer activist shared his views on this. The event met with such an enthusiatic response that the venue had to be changed to accommodate the large audience. Mr Gai began by saying, “Should I be happy that so many have come to hear me, or be sad that there are so many unhappy consumers.” Mr Gai then injected a dose of reality. “An awakened consumer is an enlightened consumer; often, an enlightened consumer becomes a frustrated consumer (after approaching the consumer forum).”

Mr Gai pointed out a few steps every consumer must keep in mind, to avoid being taken for a ride:

Never rely on the recommendation of any trader. His concern is his sales numbers, not your benefits.

Ensure that you get a proper cash memo or invoice.

Never sign any agreement blindly, relying on the explanation given by a marketing executive.

Do not sign any document without checking its contents. If the consumer cannot respect the value of his signature, the courts may not look upon his case with much favour.

An agent is NOT authorised to collect premiums (for insurance products). Under the law, the agent’s actions do not make the company liable to the client.

Be vigilant about your rights—don’t depend on others for action.

Most consumers are unaware that, for consumer issues, there are three strata of consumer courts that can be approached depending on the monetary value of the consumer’s grievance. Mr Gai explained that if a dispute involves monies up to Rs20 lakh,  it falls under the jurisdiction of the district consumer forum. If the dispute involves monetary value above Rs20 lakh but below Rs1 crore, then the state consumer commission can take up the case. Finally, if the dispute is in excess of Rs1 crore, the consumer has to approach the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). That said, every case decided at the district forums or state commissions can be appealed to the higher level.

In his talk, Mr Gai also shared how to build effective evidence for consumer courts and the finer points of the law itself, like the ambiguity in the definition of ‘commercial purpose’, and the definition of who is considered a consumer. Using case laws—ranging from grim to rib-tickling— Mr Gai explained to the audience the various bizarre turns that a consumer case can take.

According to Mr Gai, during 1999, about 1,500 cases were filed in the Mumbai suburban consumer forum; the number has come down to just 500 in 2013. Contrary to what most people would believe, this is not a good sign. Consumers have given up due to the slow pace of justice.


Sosva: Ngo For NGos

An organisation in Mumbai that  provides services and volunteers to other NGOs,

In 1984, a group of visionaries, led by V Srinivasan (IAS, retired), felt the need to build a strong voluntary sector that would work to help the poor and underprivileged to participate effectively in social development. They thought this would be best done by facilitating voluntary initiatives by NGOs and people.

It took formal shape as the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) which is now headed by Dr Vasant Talwalkar as its president. To meet its objectives, Sosva has undertaken multifarious initiatives, such as promoting volunteering, training and development, as well as supporting projects like safe drinking water, providing livelihoods and teaching English, etc.

Volunteerism Action (Volact) was started in 1995 by registering volunteers from all walks of life to match their skills and interests and placing them with voluntary agencies that need such support. Since inception, it has placed 5,990 volunteers with 215 NGOs; as many as 1,393 volunteers were placed with 52 NGOs only in the last financial year. “SOSVA is the first Indian NGO to promote systematic volunteering through this programme,” says Radha Vedantam, chief executive of SOSVA.

The volunteers offer their services across a wide range of activities such as teaching swimming to special children, conducting workshops on puppet-making, teaching conversational English to orphan children, teaching yoga, arts and crafts, etc.

SOSVA’s Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI) is now a full-fledged institution for capacity building, training and imparting skills to NGOs across a wide range of health and development activities. While STAPI started out as a part of Sosva, it has now been hived off into an independent entity.

Like most NGOs doing ground-breaking work, Sosva’s biggest challenge is to raise resources for its efforts. “We are in the grip of a vicious circle of lack of funds and staff. We need to break free from this to move the institution to a different trajectory of growth and self–sufficiency,” says Ms Vedandam. She explains that SOSVA’s presence is limited only to Mumbai because of lack of funds.  

SOSVA runs a project called MEDIGIFT to provide free medical supplies to hospitals that need such support.

Ms Vedantam says, “Under an Indo-US bilateral agreement, SOSVA receives medical supplies from US donor agencies and distributes these to charitable and needy hospitals in India. Until now, 17 shipments of supplies, valued at Rs27 crore, have been distributed to 38 hospitals.”

SOSVA has been the nodal agency for Family Health International’s programme funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for minimising the risk of AIDS/HIV in Mumbai and Thane districts, through a network of seven partner NGOs.

It is also involved in of volunteer-run activities, such as the Safe Water-Save Water project, to build awareness about water crisis among children in 27 schools. Sosva has initiated a project to enhance reading skills of 8th and 9th standard students in English- and Urdu-medium schools at Dharavi (a Mumbai slum). This too is run by volunteers since March 2012 and is set for extension to two more centres. The spoken English programme for 5th standard students at three different centres.

SOSVA has started a solar light project to install these lamps and bring sunlight into houses in slum communities which are completely dark during the day. These include the Raoli Camp, Cheetah Camp and Aarey Colony. In association with ISS Integrated Facilities Services, Sosva has started a project for livelihood generation. It finds jobs in house-keeping and security services to underprivileged youth.

You can support Sosva’s activities through donations or by registering to volunteer.
Sosva has 80G tax exemption (donation by cash or cheque/DD). You can also donate in kind (books, clothes, and toys for children, computer accessories, electronics and food, etc.)

Room No. 5, 6 & 7, 1st Floor,
Bhimabai Rane Municipal School,
R Roy Marg, Opposite Central
Plaza Cinema, Girgaon,
Mumbai 400 004,
Telephone: +91 022 2291 4630
Email: [email protected]


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