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Fake marriage certificates and supporting document rackets are mushrooming in India

We always believed and conditioned that the marriages are made in heaven, but these days marriages can be made anywhere on the documents because the fake certificate rackets are mushrooming across India. fake and fraudulent marriages are being conducted in some small chambers and groups. Few years back there was a case of Madras where the marriages were conducted in the chambers of some advocates. The Madras high court had sprawled upon a thriving ‘fake marriage cartel’, in which advocates play priests and solemnize weddings in their chambers, no matter those getting married are present or not. More than 3,500 such ‘weddings’ were registered in just two registrar offices in Chennai in 2013. In most cases, advocates who specialized in such procedures conducted the marriage, issued certificates and then ‘forced’ registration officials to register the marriage without the physical presence of the ‘newlyweds’. The racket came to light after many habeas corpus petitions were filed by ‘aggrieved grooms’, who said came to court saying their ‘wives’ were in the illegal custody of their parents. On being summoned, many women girls told the court that though they knew the ‘groom’, no such marriage had taken place. One girl said a carpenter engaged by his father had registered her as his wife without her knowledge. After a close scrutiny of ‘marriage certificates’ revealed a pattern, the judges ordered an inquiry. Another advocate, Neelanarayanan, conducted 382 marriages, while one Athitham solemnized 318. Advocate S Venkatesan conducted 277 marriages and one Alamelu solemnised 269 marriages. Noting that a group of advocates has taken solemnisation and registration of marriages as a special branch of practice, the judges remarked that even if it is clear that there is something foul in the marriage, officials cannot refuse registration, as they were abused and threatened with physical violence

In 2017, Sleuths of the Thane (rural) police busted a fake Marriage and supporting documents racket in Bhayandar. However, the 57-year-old fraudster who operated the racket is still at large. Naresh J. Mehta was found to be involved in providing all types of government documents including Pan cards, Aadhaar cards and ration cards and marriage certificates to his clientele on the virtue of fake and fabricated documents. The action followed after members of the social organization Consumer Social Work Sanstha passed information to the police about the fraudulent activities. After sending a decoy and confirming the authenticity of the complaints, a team of police raided Mehta’s office and seized incriminating documents including blank letterheads of local corporators, marriage certificates, birth certificates, this apart from seals and stamps of Special Executive Officers and even the Income Tax department. The accused would expertly delete the name and address on the original documents and when approached by customers, he would fill that person’s name in the blank spaces to use them as supporting papers required for cards and certificates issued by various government agencies. In one year hundreds of people took help of these documents for various purposes and because each time after deliverance of certificate he used to delete the document from computer and enter new one, so the tracing people who opted for fake certificates became really difficult for cops, most of the certificate holders migrated or took jobs abroad.

If you visit any courts in Mumbai. Especially Bandra, from notary to marriage everything can be arranged without the presence of persons. What you need is money to satisfy their demands. Some even come to your door steps to deliver these certificates if they build trust on you. It’s the agents around courts who have tie-ups with lawyers. There are many small-time lawyers, who stand at the gate to catch someone who can give them business, they literally chase a person who enters the gate of court. They take you to the side, ask your requirements and bargain hard on money and time of deliverance. Then form their they will escort you to some lawyer’s shack and there the final word of exchange happens. They arrange everything from a witness to sign the papers to the so-called parties mentioned on the papers. At the end you get what you want. But this does not guarantee the authenticity. If you are challenged, then you are definitely come under clutches of law.

Especially, marriage certificates are proof of your marriage & can be used to prove various other things like traveling abroad, passports, Aadhar card etc. The process has now become really simple & we can get an online marriage certificate from the comfort of your home. But making fake documents, speaks about criminal mind you got and want to indulge in illegal act of using fake marriage certificate for registration of marriage with the Registrar of Marriages. The Registrar of Marriages has power to get the marriage certificate checked from the source and if found fake, refuse the registration of marriage and even get you prosecuted for the offence of giving wrong information and making false statement on oath/affidavit for the process.

One of such incidents came up during the hearing of a habeas corpus petition filed by one S Balakrishnan Pandian. Saying that that he had married a girl and got the marriage registered too, he claimed the girl was in the illegal custody of her father. He wanted the court to direct police to trace the girl and produce her in court. He also furnished a copy of the ‘marriage certificate’ as proof. The next day, the girl was produced in court. During inquiry, she said she was doing her BE (computer science) in a college in Sivakasi. Though she admitted knowing the boy, she denied the marriage. When the marriage certificate was shown to her, she said she never signed anywhere and that it might have been obtained without her knowledge. But, before parting with the case, the judges said they had come across several habeas corpus petitions of late, where ‘marriage certificates’ by Royapuram sub-registrar had been submitted as proof, and ordered a CB-CID probe into the suspected racket.

A marriage which has already been solemnized can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Hindu Marriage Act is applicable in cases where both husband and wife with a minimum age of 21 and 18 respectively, are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs or where they have converted into any of these religions. Where either of the husband or wife or both are not of any of the religion mentioned above, the marriage has to be registered under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Muslim couples need to register their marriage under Special Marriage Act. As per the order passed by The Hon’ble Supreme Court all marriages should be registered under respective states or union territories. When it comes to marriage or your existence stick to legal aspect of it. Do not fall in the trap of easy jobs such as fake certificates.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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