Paving the way for couples, especially those living abroad, to register their marriages in absentia, Delhi High Court has said that these certificates can be issued via video-conferencing.
Justice Manmohan, allowing this to a newly-wed couple based in Canada, said that the rule mandating physical presence while applying for registration was "framed at a time when technology was nascent".
The court said the family members could take delivery of the marriage certificate once the couple confirms this through video-conferencing.
"The law has to adapt to changing times," the court opined.
It also said that developments that have changed the world and the way we view the world today were "unimaginable" and perhaps "beyond comprehension of the rule makers".
The court was hearing a plea filed by Ravinder Chadha, who sought permission to exempt his Canada-based daughter and son-in-law from personal appearance for registering their marriage and asked if they could do so via video-conferencing.
The court in its judgment said: "It is possible for a person living thousands of kilometres away from Delhi or anywhere in India to simultaneously communicate with another party. Also, technology has enabled parties today to attest documents digitally and ensure digitally secure transmission through the internet."
"The objective and philosophy underlying the Information Technology Act is based on
these developments," the judge said in his Jan 30 order, which has only now been made available.
"In these circumstances the inaction or indifference of the state to recognise these developments and provide for a suitable mechanism to facilitate (what is required to be done), i.e., registration of marriage of spouses separated by distance, has to be addressed," Justice Manmohan observed.
The court directed the registering authority of the Hindu Marriage Act to accept the application for registering the marriage of Chadha's daughter and son-in-law through their power of attorney holders.
It further asked the registrar to satisfy himself about the legality and validity of the power of attorney as well as the newly-wed couple through video-conferencing, as compelling them to visit India only for this purpose would entail avoidable delay and expenses.
Chadha's daughter is pursuing higher studies at British Columbia's Douglas College and her
husband also works in the province.
The court also suggested that the government evolve suitable mechanism with a mix of technology by incorporating video-conferencing, authentication of identities by embassies and attestation of signatures in a similar manner.
"The law has to adapt to changing times. Here, the requirements spelt out half a century ago are acting as impediments, even though technology has enabled myriad solutions to the authorities," the court said.