Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

April 2006
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Welcome Move

The Supreme Court directive to introduce compulsory registration of marriages must be welcomed across the entire social spectrum in the country as it fulfills a longstanding need to bring reforms in an area of crucial concern. There need not be any two opinions on bringing all marriages to a national record book in as much as the future depends upon registering the nuptial ties between two people. Marriage being the key instrument of union between two individuals, maintenance of family, legitimacy of children from such union, ownership of property raised collectively or inherited upon death by one among them, settlement of insurance claims, retirement and post-death benefits for spouse, all essentially beg for an official seal of authentication.

The circumspection expressed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is unnecessary in this regard. Registration should not be construed as an intervention into the Muslim Personal Law. Any such legislation will in no case replace the attendant religious ceremonies in place since the hoary past. Needless to say that it would impinge upon Nikah. Several Muslim countries have such legislation on their statutes. Egypt requires registration of marriages within ten days of Nikah being solemnised. Pakistan too requires registration of all marriages for seal of legal validity. There is absolutely no scope for fear for those who harbour fears of interference into the Shariah and personal affairs of Muslims.

The compulsory registration of marriages would make it difficult for touts to arrange unscrupulous marriages. It will also discourage under-age matrimony and all such alliances that ignore social realities or age disparities. Most Arab marriages that often embarrass the community for their total lack of compatibility, owe themselves to a thriving market of brokers who carry on their nefarious trade without any compunction.

Registration of marriage would also greatly simplify issuance of marriage certificate, a key document forming the basis of conjugal relationship and issues emanating therefrom. Research data from such registration offices would be of key importance in sectors such as housing, birth control, child and maternal health.

Minority Education Bill

The Parliament on March 10, 2006 passed the National Commission for the Minorities Educational Institutions Act 2006, which enables any minority educational institution to seek affiliation with Central universities. Hustled through the two houses, the Bill is successor to an ordinance issued in November last and confers some benefits which were previously not thought of. It offers the minority institutions to seek affiliation with Central universities such as University of Delhi, Pondicherry University, North Eastern Hill University, Assam University, Nagaland University and Mizoram University. If a university named in the schedule denies affiliation to an institution, a 3-member commission (with all the three belonging to the minority community) would give the final and binding ruling. This committee will be headed by a High Court judge and vested with all relevant executive and judicial powers. This commission can advise the central and state governments on any question relating to the minorities’ education, which are referred to it. According to the bill, the commission can “look into specific complaints regarding deprivation or violation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice and any dispute relating to affiliation to a scheduled university and report its findings to the central government for its implementation. Only the central government shall have the powers to over-rule the decisions of the commission.

It provides a re-dressal for the discriminatory attitude of the state governments which often deny recognition and affiliation of minority institutions to the State Board or Universities. Under its provisions, a state government would be required to issue a “No Objection Certificate” to a minority institution within 90 days of its application to the effect or would give reasons for non-issuance. If no reasons are cited, it would take issuance of the NOC. This constitutes a certain advance over the present situation where minorities are left in endless suspended animation.

But the Act does not provide adequate safeguards against commercialisation of minority professional colleges. It would have been better if the Act would have made it mandatory for such institutions to ensure that 50 per cent of the students belonged to the community to which the colleges belonged and that students of that community from others states, where they were not a minority, were not included under this. There is also this apprehension that there would be intense race for affiliation with prestigious Central Universities such as Delhi University and this would translate into exorbitant fee for courses.