What is a valid marriage under Hindu Marriage Act?
Valid marriage under Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) shall qualify the conditions enumerated under Section 5, HMA. The most important condition is that both the parties should be Hindu within the meaning of Section 2, HMA.
Conditions to a Hindu Marriage:
If the following conditions are met, a marriage can be solemnized between any two Hindus:
(i) neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;
(ii) neither party at the time of marriage:
(a) is unable of giving valid consent due to unsound mind;
(b) although being capable of giving valid consent, has been suffering from a mental condition of such a nature or extent that he or she is unsuited for marriage and childbearing; or
(c) has suffered from frequent fits of insanity.
(iii) at the time of the marriage, the bridegroom has reached the age of 21 [twenty-one years] and the bride has reached the age of 18 [eighteen years];
(iv) the parties are not in a prohibitory relationship unless the custom or usage that governs each of them allows for a marriage between them;
(v) Unless each party’s custom or use approves a marriage between them, the parties are not sapindas of each other.
Explanation of the Conditions:
- The idea of monogamy is ensured in the first requirement;
- The second criterion concerns the mental ability of one of the other parties to the marriage, and it prevents an idiot or lunatic from marrying;
- The third criterion stipulates that the bride and groom must be at least 18 years old to enter into a marriage. This criterion, by the way, provides for the bride and groom’s agreement to the marriage because the law considers them mature at a specific age;
- The fourth requirement forbids individuals in prohibited degrees from marrying unless it is the customary practice or embedded in the usage of a community. The laws that govern each of them allow for a marriage between the two;
- The fifth criterion is similar to the fourth, with the exception that it forbids two sapindas from marrying;
Prohibitory degree of Valid Marriages Section 3(f) & (g), HMA:
Sapinda relationships under Section 3(f), HMA:
(i) The Sapinda relationship with respect to any person extends to the third (inclusive) generation in the line of descent through the mother, and the fifth (inclusive) generation in the line of descent through the father, the line being traced upwards in each case from the person concerned, who is to be counted as the first generation;
(ii) Two people are Sapindas of each other if one of them is a lineal descendant of the other within the boundaries of Sapinda relationship, or if they share a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of Sapinda relationship with each of them.
Other degrees of prohibited relationships under Section 3(g), HMA:
Two people are said to be in a prohibited relationship if they are:
(i) if one is the other’s lineal ascendant; or
(ii) if one was married to a descendant or lineal ascendant of the other; or
(iii) if one was the wife of the other’s brother, or of the other’s father’s or mother’s brother, or of the other’s grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother; or
(iv) if the two are brothers or sisters, uncles, and nieces, aunts and nephews, or siblings or children of two brothers or sisters.
Interfaith marriages and inability to bear a child due to insanity under HMA:
(i) If a Hindu man who converted to any other religion and a woman of any other religion (his wife) who converts to Hindu religion will remain ineligible to marry. Section 5 of the Act allows for the solemnization of a marriage between two Hindus.
(ii) In order to pronounce a wife unfit for valid marriage and childbearing owing to a mental illness, it must be demonstrated that the illness she is suffering is of such a character or magnitude that it makes it difficult for her to live a normal married life.
What are remedies for annulment/dissolution of marriage under HMA?
Void marriages are in violation of Sections 5 (i), (iv), and (v) of the Hindu Marriage Act is null and void since the beginning.
Voidable marriages are those marriages that are in violation of the grounds mentioned in Section 12 of the HMA, and such marriages may be annulled by the Court if the requirements of Section 12 are met.
Judicial Separation: Either party to a marriage may file a petition for judicial separation Section 10 on any of the grounds specified in sub-section (i) of section 13, and, in the case of a wife, on any of the reasons specified in sub-section (ii) thereof, as grounds on which a petition for divorce might have been filed.
Divorce: Any marriage that has been solemnized under HMA may be dissolved by a decree of divorce based on a petition brought by either the husband or the wife under Section 13, HMA. This is a contested divorce within the provisions of Section 13.
Section 13A: It is an alternate form of relief in divorce proceedings under Section 13, HMA upon filing a petition for dissolution of marriage, the court may pass instead a decree for judicial separation. The exception to the relief would be in so far as the clauses (ii), (vi), and (vii) of Section 13 are concerned.
Section 13B: A petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce may be brought to the District Court by both parties to a marriage and the court can grant the decree of divorce within the ambit of provisions enumerated under section 13B.
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