The Essential Conditions for a Valid Marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

What is marriage?

Marriage is specifically a union between man and women, which are managed by laws, rules, customs, belief, and attitudes and prescribes the rights and duties of the couples. Hence it is a legally and socially sanctioned union.

Concept of Hindu Marriage according to Hindu Law

According to Hinduism, out of 16 sacraments marriage is one of the most imperative sacraments. It’s a holy tie that cannot be broken down. It’s an association from birth to birth; a tie which prolongs after death and rebirth. As per Veda’s, a man is only complete when he gets married. Accordingly, due to the desires and convenience of the people from time to time Hindu marriage rites have been transformed.

In the case of Reema Aggarwal v. Anupam[1], the court held that marriage is a junction of three important duties, i.e., social, religious and spiritual. This union of two souls creates a new relationship of love, affection, care and concern between the husband and wife which is usually meant to last a lifetime. Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955(hereinafter referred to as HMA lays down the various conditions required to be followed for a valid, legal marriage.

Before discussing the essentials of marriage under sec 5 of HMA let us discuss the term ‘Hindu’.

In the eyes of law, the term ‘Hindu’

According to section 2 of HMA as Hindu are not only the person who is Hindu by birth, religion, conversion or by re-conversion but also who are Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain or else that those Indian citizens who are not Christian, Parsi, Muslim, or Jew for the purpose of the law.

In the case of Chandrasekhar v. Kulandaivelu[2], Hon’ble Supreme Court held “that Any person who is a Hindu, Jain, Buddhist or Sikh by religion is a Hindu if: (i) the practises, professes or follows any of these religions, and (ii) he remains a Hindu even if he does not practice, profess or follow the tenets of any one of these religions. Thus, a person does not cease to be a Hindu if he becomes an atheist, or dissents or deviates from the central doctrines of Hinduism or lapses from orthodox practices, or adopts the western way of life, or eats beef”.

In the case of M. Vijayakumari v. K. Devabalan[3]Court held that “A marriage between a Hindu man who converted as Christian and a Christian lady in a Hindu form is not a valid marriage. According to section 5 of the Act marriage can be solemnised between two Hindus”. DRJ 238

Conditions for valid marriage(sec-5)

The Act provides that if marriageis solemnized between any two Hindu, then the following conditions shall be fulfilled for solemnizing of a marriage.

  1. Monopoly-Neither party at the time of marriage should have a spouse living at the time of marriage. Which means it prohibits bigamy or polygamy and according to Section 11, it makes a bigamous marriage void and Section 17 makes it a penal offence for both Hindu males and females under Section 494 and 495 of IPC.
    For example-suppose Mr. ‘A’ solemnized marriage with Miss ‘B’ while Mr A’s earlier wife was alive and also earlier marriage hasn’t been set aside. Therefore, in this situation, A’s later marriage would be no marriage in the eye of law. Such marriage is null and void from the very beginning and also such a marriage may be declared as null and void by a decree of nullity by filing a petition under section 11 of HMA. In the case of Sarla Mudgal v Union of India[4], the Supreme Court held that “Till the time a Hindu marriage is dissolved under the Act none of the spouses can contract a second marriage”.
  2. The condition concerning mental health or capacity- At the time of the marriage both the parties who are marrying to each other should be capable of giving valid consent to the marriage and also, not be suffering from mental disorder of any such kind, or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and procreation of children. Therefore, the Act provides that a marriage solemnized in contravention of condition of-mental capacity shall be voidable and same can be annulled by a decree of nullity under section 12 of this Act.
  3. At the time of marriage, none of the parties should be subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy. In Tarlochan Singh v. Jit Kaur[5],
    the court held the marriage as void on the ground that wife was suffering from schizophrenia within a short period after marriage and the disease was not disclosed to the husband before marriage.
  4. Condition of the age of marriage- At the time of marriage the bride must have completed the age of 18 years and the bridegroom of 21 years. Hence, child marriage is prohibited under HMA. Though, contravention of this clause doesn’t make the marriage void or voidable. It means that it’s valid although it may attract penalties. But it can become a valid ground for repudiation of the marriage under sec 12(1) (c) of the Act. The HMA and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 provide for punishment for such marriage. Under section 3 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, Child marriages to be voidable at the option of the contracting party being a child. As per to Section 18 of HMA, anyone who procures a marriage for himself or herself in contravention of Section 5(iii) may be punished with up to 15 days imprisonment or with a fine up to Rs. 1000 or with both.

Punishments under Prohibition of Child marriage Act, 2006

  • According to section 9 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act whoever, being a male adult above eighteen years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.
  • Section 10 states that whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees unless he proves that he had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.
  • Section 11 talks about Punishment for promoting or permitting solemnisation of child marriages.  Where a child contracts a child marriage, any person having charge of the child, whether as parent or guardian or any other person or in any other capacity, lawful or unlawful, including any member of an organisation or association of persons who does any act to promote the marriage or permits it to be solemnised, or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnised, including attending or participating in child marriage, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees but no woman shall be punishable with imprisonment. Also, it shall be presumed, unless and until the contrary is proved, that where a minor child has contracted a marriage, the person having charge of such minor child has negligently failed to prevent the marriage from being solemnised.
  1. Avoidance of degrees of prohibited relationship-At the time of marriage neither of parties should be within the degree of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each party permits such marriage. Sec 3(g) of the Act defines “degree of prohibited relationship” which means that when a person is related to each other by (i) By lineal ascent and/or (ii) By affinity. According to Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, a marriage in contravention of this condition is void. It is also punishable under section 18(b) of the Act.
  2. Avoidance of sapinda relationship- The parties shall not sapindas of each other unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.

According to Sec3 (f) (i) “sapinda relationship” with reference to any person extends as far as the third generation (inclusive) in the line of ascent through the mother, and the fifth (inclusive) in the line of ascent 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 persons are said to be “sapindas” of each other if one is a lineal ascendant of the other within the limits of sapinda relationship, or if they have a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of sapinda relationship with reference to each of them;

[1] Appeal(clr.) 25 off 2004 SC

[2] 1963 AIR 185,1963 SCR (2)

[3]AIR 2003 Ker 363.

[4] 440   AIR 1995 SC 1531

[5] AIR 1986 P H 379

One thought on “The Essential Conditions for a Valid Marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • Sep 11, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Dear Sheetal,
    Well written in sequential manner.Concepts of Marriage,Hindu Marriage,Hindu and Valid Marriage have been nicely elaborated with important case laws and relevant provisions.All important aspects have been dealt with.


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