MUMBAI: The registration of Christian marriages in Mumbai has come to a halt since the previous marriage officer retired around July. Newly-wed couples who wish to get their marriage certificates stamped by state government authorities are forced to travel to Pune to do so amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Activists Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida of Watchdog Foundation have urged the state government to appoint a new officer in Mumbai at the earliest. Advocate Vivian D’Souza, Rita D’Sa and Tulip Miranda, president of Bombay East Indian Association, have co-signed it.
Pimenta said, “Mumbai has a Catholic population of 10 lakh, and every year, thousands get married in the 100-plus Catholic churches in Mumbai alone. The post of marriage officer is vacant since the previous incumbent Ashish Lopez retired.”
Pimenta explained the procedure saying, “Couples are required to procure their marriage certificate from the local church where nuptials were solemnised. The certificate is then attested by the chancellor attached to Archbishop House in Colaba, and subsequently by a notary public. Later, it is to be stamped by the state home department and finally by the marriage officer whose office is in Mantralaya.”
In the absence of the Mumbai appointee, couples have to travel to Pune to get attestation done through the Commissioner of Social Welfare. Almeida said, “This is a matter of concern since Pune has a high number of Covid-19 cases… The government should immediately fill the vacancy in Mumbai.”
The archdiocese of Bombay expressed concern as well. Spokesman Fr Nigel Barrett said, “The situation of having no registrar of Christian marriages is indeed true. It has been communicated to the government… We are hopeful it will be addressed soon.”
Chief secretary of the state government directed the matter to the principal secretary of social justice department. A senior official there told TOI that the subject does not fall within its purview.