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Hindu Marriage Act

Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, came into force on 18th of May, 1955. It has amended and codified the law relating to marriage solemnized between two Hindus.
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Hindu Marriage Act

Who is Governed by the Act

Hindu Marriage Act (25 of 1955), came into force on 18th of May, 1955. It has amended and codified the law relating to marriage solemnized between two Hindus. The Act applies to any person:
(a) any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments;

(b) any person who is a Hindu including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj;

(c) any person who is a Buddhist, [aina or Sikh by religion, and (d) any other person (Wh6iS not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion) domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by Hindu law.

So, the Act, though enacted as Hindu Marriage Act, applies not merely to Hindus by religion, it also applies to persons who profess other religions -
Sikh, Jain or Buddhist. In other words, even though Sikhs, Jains or Buddhist may not be Hindus by religion, they are governed by this Act like Hindus.

The Act makes it clear that expression "Hindu" includes a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is nevertheless a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in section 2.

As to who is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, Explanation appended to section 2 of the Act provides that any:
(a) child, legitimate on illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion;

(b) child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion. In this case, the child must have been brought up as a member of the tribe, community, group or family to which such parent belongs or belonged; and

(c) person-who is a convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion. For example, if a foreigner abdicates his religion by a clear act of renunciation and adopts Hindu religion, he may be regarded a Hindu.

Conditions For A Hindu Marriage

The Act provides that a marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus. (Section 5) Further following conditions must be fulfilled for solemnization of a Hindu marriage:
(1) If you are bridegroom, at the time of your marriage, you must have completed the age of 21 years;

If you are bride, at the time of your marriage, you must have completed the age of 18 years.

It may be mentioned here that if you solemnize marriage when you have not completed the requisite age, it would be a valid marriage so far as provisions of Hindu Marriage Act are concerned.

However, under section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, non-compliance with this condition provides a remedy to the aggrieved person for relief of divorce.

However, as noticed above, under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, if you solemnize marriage when you have not completed the requisite age, it is called a child marriage. When you solemnize marriage even when you have not completed the requisite age, it would be a voidable marriage and that under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the aggrieved contracting party can file a petition before the Court for getting the marriage annulled.

However, when there is an injunction order, under the provisions of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, but still you go ahead and solemnize marriage, it would be a case of void marriage. Such a marriage would be void from the very beginning.

(2) Neither party to the marriage should have a spouse living at the time of marriage. In case, you are a male, you should not have a spouse, your wife-living at the time of your marriage with the other girl.

Similarly, if you are a female, you should not have a husband living at the time of your marriage with another man. Suppose, you are going to solemnize marriage while your spouse from the earlier marriage is alive and your earlier marriage has not been set aside. In such a situation, your later marriage would be no marriage in the eye of law. Such a marriage is null and void from the very beginning' .(Sec. 11, Hindu Marriage Act.) At the same time, such a marriage may be got declared null and void by a decree of nullity by filing petition under section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act. Furthermore, in case of any such marriage the person who performs marriage in violation of this condition of the law becomes liable to be prosecuted under sections 494 and 495 IPC.

(3) At the time of marriage, you and the party to whom you are going to marry, should be capable of giving a/valid consent to the marriage. It means that none .of you should be suffering from unsoundness of mind or incapable of' giving a valid consent to the marriage on account of unsoundness of mind.

The Act provides that a marriage solemnized in contravention of condition of-mental capacity shall be voidable and same can be got annulled by/ a decree of nullity. (Section 12).

(4) At the time of marriage, even if you and the other party are capable of giving a valid consent, none of you should be suffering from mental disorder or on that account unfit for marriage and. procreation of children. So, none of you shall be suffering from mental disorder and as a result none of you should be unfit to marry and to give birth to child.

(5) At the time of marriage, none of you should have been suffering from recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy.

(6) At the time of marriage, neither you nor the other party should be within the degrees of prohibited relationship. However, if custom or usage governing each of you permits of a marriage between you and the other party, then you are permitted to marry each other and law recognizes the same.

Two persons are stated to be "within the degrees of prohibited relationship" if they are related to each other in the manner defined under section 3(g) of the Act. It has been so provided to prevent physical deformation of the race or evil consequences on account of the. marriage between the prohibited relationship. Such a marriage is null and void from the very beginning (Section 11). At the same time, such a marriage may be got declared null and void by a decree of nullity by filing petition under section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act.

(a) If you are a boy, you cannot marry:

(1) your mother;
(2) grandmother;
(3) your daughter in law; or
(4) your granddaughter in law.

If you are a girl, you cannot marry:

(1) your father;
(2) grandfather;
(3) son in law; or
(4) son's daughter's husband.

(b) If you are a boy, you cannot marry wife of your:

(1) brother; or
(2) father's brother; or
(3) mother's brother; or
(4) grandfather's brother; or
(5) grandmother's brother.

(c) If you are a boy, you cannot marry:

(1) your sister;
(2) your brother's daughter;
(3) your sister's daughter;
(4) sister of your father;
(5) sister of your mother;
(6) daughter of your father's sister;
(7) daughter of your father's brother;

{a) daughter of your mother's sister;

(9) daughter of your mother's brother;

If you are a girl, you cannot marry:

(1) your brother;
(2) your father's brother;
(3) your mother's brother;
(4) son of your brother;
(5) son of your sister;
(6) son of your father's brother;
(7) son of your father's sister;
(8) son of your mother's brother;
(9) son of your mother's sister

However, if custom or usage governing each of you permits of a marriage between you and the other party, then you are permitted to marry each other, law recognizes the same. The custom must not be unreasonable or opposed to public policy or abhorrent to decency and morality or inconsistent with practices of good persons.

(7) At the time of marriage, neither you nor the other party should be sapinda of each other. However, if there is any custom or usage governing each of you which permits of a marriage between both of you, law recognizes the same. Such a marriage is null and void from the

very beginning (Section 11). At the same time, such a marriage may be got declared null and void by a decree of nullity by filing petition under section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act.

Sapinda consists of two words. Sa means 'same' whereas pinda means the rice ball which a Hindu offers to his ancestors at Shradha ceremony.

One offers pinda to his father, grandfather, great grandfather and so on upto sixth degree on paternal side; and to his mother, mother's father, mother's father's father on maternal side.

At the same time, no two descendants of a common ancestor can marry each other unless they or either of them is removed more than 3 degrees from the common ancestor, if relationship is traced through mother, and more than 5 degrees if relationship is being traced through father.

For example, when A and B have a common male ancestor C and their relationship is traced through their fathers, if A and B are within 5 degrees from C, A and B cannot marry. However, if anyone of them i.e., either A or B goes beyond 5 degrees from C, they can marry each other.

By way of another example, a girl being a sapinda relation of her father, grandfather, great grandfather and so on starting from the girl, cannot marry anyone of them.

However, as noticed above, if there is any custom or usage governing each of you which permits of a marriage between you, law recognizes the same. The custom must not be unreasonable or opposed to public policy or abhorrent to decency and morality or inconsistent with practices of good persons.

Punishment is Provided if you Marry within the Degree of Prohibited Relationship or with Sapinda
As noticed above, section 18 of Hindu Marriage Act provides punishment if marriage is performed by the parties who are sapinda of each other or within the degrees of prohibited relationship.

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