The Hindu Marriage Act
The Hindu Marriage Act
Marriages are solemnized ceremonies by which a couple is officially united in the presence of their friends and family members. In India, every religion abides by certain rules and regulation that have to be followed during this occasion. In this article, we take a closer look at the Hindu Marriage Act.
Applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act
The Hindu Marriage Act is applicable to the following group of people.
- A person who is a Hindu including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj.
- A person who is a Buddist, Jaina or Sikh.
- A person who is residing in regions where this act is applicable and the person should not be a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew.
- A child both legitimate or illegitimate whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.
- A child whose parents is a Hindu, Buddist, Jaina or Sikh and is raised as a member of a tribe, community, group or family to which their parents belong.
- Any individual who is a convert or re-convert to Hindus, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion.
According to Clause (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution, this is not applicable to members of any Scheduled Tribe unless the Central Government issues a notification in the Official Gazette.
Conditions for a Hindu Marriage
A marriage between two Hindus will be solemnized if the following conditions are fulfilled.
- The couple should not have a spouse living during the wedding.
- Neither of the couples is incapable of consenting to the marriage due to unsoundness of mind.
- Neither of the couples should be suffering from any mental disorders which makes him/ her unfit for marriage and the procreation of children.
- Neither of the couples should not be suffering from attacks of insanity or epilepsy.
- The bridegroom has to complete 21 years of age and the bride has to complete 18 years of age at the time of their wedding.
- The couple should not be in a prohibited relationship unless their custom permits them to get married.
- The couple should not be sapindas (cousins) unless their custom permits them to get married.
Overriding Effect of Act
According to the Hindu Marriage Act, any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu Law or any custom or usage as part of the law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have an effect to any matter for which provision is made in this Act. Any other law that has been in force immediately before the commencement of this Act ceases to have effect in so far as it is inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act.
Ceremonies for a Hindu Marriage
Hindu marriages are solemnized according to the customary rites and ceremonies of either of the couple’s custom. One of the rites and ceremonies include the saptapadi where the bridegroom and the bride take seven steps before the sacred fire. The marriage is bound and completed when the seventh step is taken.
Registration of Hindu Marriages
As proof for Hindu marriages, the State Government has implemented rules that provide the particulars relating to their marriage and conditions that are prescribed in the Hindu Marriage Register. The State Government provides that entering of the particulars as in sub-section (1) wpi;d be compulsory in the State for some cases as per the direction that has been issued. However, violating this would lead the individual to pay a fine of Rs. 25. The Hindu Marriage Register is to be opened for inspection at reasonable times and would be considered as an evidence of statements. This is given by the Registrar on payment of the prescribed fee. The validity of the Hindu marriage will in no way be affected by the omission to make the entry.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights
When the husband or the wife has withdrawn from the society without a reasonable excuse, the aggrieved person may apply a petition to the District Court for restitution of conjugal rights. After investigating, the court verifies the truth mentioned in the petition and if there is no legal rule for granting the application, the court may grant the restitution of conjugal rights.
All reasonable excuses have to be furnished by the person who has been withdrawn from society.
As per sub-section (1) of Section 13, either of the couples whether solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act has to furnish a petition for judicial separation. When a judicial separation has been passed, there is no requirement for the petitioner to cohabit with the respondent. However, the court can rescind the petition if there is no satisfactory truth made in the statement.
Any marriages that are solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act, will be voidable and declared invalid in the following cases.
- When the marriage is not consummated due to the impotency of the respondent.
- When a marriage is infringed as per the conditions that are specified in Clause (ii) of Section 5.
- When the consent of the petitioner or the guardian in the marriage of the petitioner is required under Section 5 before the commencement of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1948, the consent of the guardian was obtained by force or by fraud or by any material fact or circumstances that are related to the respondent.
- If the respondent is pregnant by a person who is not the petitioner.
The legitimacy of Children of void marriages
- According to Section 11, a child of any marriage is legitimate if the marriage had been valid, whether or not the marriage is null and void.
- If a decree of nullity is granted for a voidable marriage, any child conceived prior to the formulation of the decree will be considered as a legitimate child irrespective of the existence of the decree.
Punishment of Bigamy
As per the provisions of Section 494 and 495 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), a marriage between two Hindus after the commencement of the Act is void if at the date of marriage either one of the couples has a living spouse.
Punishment for Contravention of Certain other Conditions
The following are the punishments for contravention of a Hindu marriage.
- If there has been a contravention specified in clause (ii) of Section 5, the person committed the crime shall be imprisoned up to fifteen days or shall be charged with a fine that goes up to Rs. 1000
- If there has been a contravention specified in clause (iv) or clause (v) of Section 5, the person committed the crime will be imprisoned for one month or will be charged with a fine that goes up to Rs. 1000 or in some cases, the person will be charged with both.