The registration of Christian marriages in Mumbai has come to a halt after the retirement of the marriage officer in July.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, newlywed couples are forced to travel to Pune to get their marri-age certificates stamped by state government authorities. Activists Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida of the Watchdog Foundation have urged the state government to appoint a new officer in Mumbai at the earliest. Advocate Vivian D’Souza, Rita D’Souza as well as Tulip Miranda, president of the Bombay East Indian Association, have signed the request.
Pimenta said, “Mumbai has a Catholic popu-lation of 10 lakhs (1 million), and every year, thousands of couples get married in the 100-plus Catholic Churches that are located in Mumbai alone. The post of marriage officer remains vacant ever since the previous incumbent Ashish Lopez retired a few months ago.”
Pimenta explained the procedure saying, “Couples are required to procure their marriage certificate from the local church where the nuptials were solemnized. 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 are required 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. More-over, the journey is tedious. The state government should immediately fill the vacancy in Mumbai.” The archdiocese of Bombay expressed concern as well. Spokesman Fr Nigel Barrett said, “The situa-tion of having no registrar of Christian marriages is indeed true. It has been communicated to the government about the urgency to appoint a registrar and we are hopeful it will be addressed soon.”