Conditions of a valid Hindu Marriage
Among Hindus, marriage is a sacramental union- a respected, indissoluble and eternal union. The ideal of Hindu marriage has always been very high. From the Vedic period, the purity of marital union has been recognised. A Hindu wife holds an honorary position in a family. The wife is ardhangini of her husband. A Hindu man can not perform most of the yagans without his wife. In Hindu, the wife is also known as Patni, dharmapatni and sahadharmini.
In a traditional Hindu marriage, a Hindu must perform 7 rituals, they are:
- Exchange of garlands
Widow marriages and divorce are allowed under Hindu law. Hindu marriage is a holy union in the sense that a sacramental ceremony is important. Thus, one may say that the traditional Hindu marriage has a pretence of a contract and a sacramental union.
Conditions of a valid Hindu Marriage:
Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954 has stated the conditions of a valid Hindu marriage.
According to Section 5, a marriage is a pure union between two souls. A marriage between two Hindus maybe be solemnized if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely –
1. Monogamy Sec.5(i)
Monogamy means the husband or the wife shall not have a spouse living at the time of marriage. Bigamy is the setback of monogamy. Section 5(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954 prohibits bigamy includes the polygamy and polyandry. section 11 stated that bigamous marriage is void under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954. It is punishable under section 494 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 the punishment of which is up to 7years of imprisonment and fine.
Case Law- In Savitri Devi V. Manorama Bai (AIR 1998 MP 114), the apex court observed that the Hindu second wife under bigamous marriage is not entitled to get wife status.
2. Mental Capacity: Incapacity to Consent and Mental Disorder Sec.5(ii)
A valid consent to the marriage is necessary from both the husband and the wife. As per the Section. 5(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954 both the husband and wife must be of sound mind.
The Marriage Laws Act, 1976 has reframed the clauses thus:
- a) At the time of the marriage, both the parties are capable of giving valid consent.
- b) Through giving consent, both the parties are not suffering from any mental disorders, fit for marriage and procreation of children.
- c) Both the parties are free from the recurrent attack of insanity or epilepsy.
In the case of Bhagwati Saran Singh V. Parmeshwari Nardar Singh (1942 All 267), the Allahabad High Court observed that the respondent is unfit for marriage and procreation of children. So the marriage between the parties is not valid.
3. Age Sec. 5(iii)
At the time of marriage, the groom has completed 21 years of age and 18 years of age bride should Complete. Nevertheless, making the minimum age of marriage 21 years would be preventable. The minimum age of marriage does not mean compulsory age. The minimum age of marriage does not mean compulsory age.
This only indicates that there could be a criminal case under this age asper the Child Marriage Act. Thus, most cases are taken to court for self-arranged marriages. And only one-third relates to arranged marriages, which were brought by parents or husbands to dissolve or annul marriages that have broken down due to domestic violence, dowry, or compatibility issues.
According to Section16 of the Act, anyone who marries in violation of the conditions can be punished with ordinary imprisonment which can be up to 15 days, or a fine, which can be increased to Rs. 1000 / – or both.
4. Degrees of prohibited Relationship Sec.5(vi)
The Hindu husband and wife must not be related to each other within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage provides otherwise. However, the custom must be reasonable and must not be opposed to public policy.
Section 5(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954 stated the parties to the marriage should not be within the degrees of prohibited relationship. Degrees of prohibited relationship is enshrined in Section 3(g) of the Hindu Marriage Act. Parties are said to be within the degree of prohibited relationship –
- When one party is a lineal ascendant of the other party.
- When one party is the wife of –
- and Paternal side grandfather’s and grandmother’s brother.
- When parties are each other –
- Brother and sister,
- and niece,
- and nephew,
- of a brother and sister.
If the parties to the marriage are in the prohibited degrees, the party responsible for obtaining the marriage is liable for the custody up to one month or with a fine up to Rs. 1000/- or with both under section 18 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954.
In the case of Kamani Devi V. Kameshwar Singh (AIR 1946, Patna 316), the Patna High Court held that the marriage was void as being within the prohibited degree, the obligation to maintain the wife would stay.
5. Degrees of Sapinda Relationship (Sec.5 (v)
The Hindu husband and wife must not be related to each other within the degrees of sapinda relationship unless the custom or usage provides otherwise. Sapinda marriage is based on the rule of exogamy. A person cannot marry a person related to him within five degrees on the mother’s side and seven degrees on the father’s side.
A marriage in contravention of this condition is not valid. Where the parties to the marriage are related to each other within the degrees of sapinda relationship, the party responsible for procuring the marriage is liable for custody up to one month or a penalty up to Rs. 1000/- or with both under section 18 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954.
Marriage is a sacrament, gives rise to the status of husband and wife on parties to the marriage, and status of legitimacy on the children of the marriage. For a valid Hindu marriage, the above-mentioned conditions are necessary to perform. The Registration of Hindu marriage compulsory or optional is on the hand of the state governments. But omission to register a marriage does not render it void. Mere registration of marriage among Hindus is not definitive proof that the marriage was solemnized by observing all the crucial ceremonies.
 Hindu quotes of Marriage, http://thehinduforum.com/index.php?threads/hindu-quotes-on-marriage.64.
Author: Shreeparna Goswami,
2nd-year B.A.LL.B Shyambazar Law College