Salient Features of Hindu marriage Act,1955

SALIENT FEATURES OF HINDU MARRIAGE ACT 1955

Introduction:

Marriage is a social institution. Marriage among Hindus are considered to be a sacred bond. Unlike Muslim Marriage it is not a contract rather it’s a religious sacrament. According to the old Hindu texts, Marriage is a religious duty. The main purpose of the act was to amend and codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus .The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was intended to secure the rights of marriage for the bride and groom who are Hindu and are married to each other. Hindu marriage act is a part of the Hindu code Bill.

Applicability of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

This law applies to all the people who belong to Hindu religion and are permanent resident of India but does not apply to people who are Muslim, Christian & Parsi . This also applies to the off shoots of Hinduism and Sikhs as well.

Conditions for marriage: Section 5

Section 5 of Hindu marriage act specifies few conditions for marriage. If these conditions are not met the marriage is considered to be Void & Voidable marriage.

Void marriage:

  • If the bride is under 18 years of age & groom is under 21 years of age i.e. the bride groom is under age.
  • If any of them are not Hindu. Bride groom should be of Hindu religion.
  • This law prohibits polygamy & strongly encourages monogamy.
  • Bridegroom should not be within a prohibited relationship.
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Voidable marriage:

  • If any one of the couple is impotent i.e unable to procreate
  • If the bride or the groom did not give consent for the marriage and is unable to understand the implications of the marriage.
  • Both should be of sound mind
  • If consent is taken forcibly or fraudulently
  • If the bride is pregnant by anyone other than the groom at the time of marriage

Ceremonies: Section 7

There are many ceremonies and rituals that are included in the Hindu marriage. Hindu marriage is solemnised under many customary rites & rituals. One of the most important rituals is Saptapadi where the bride and the groom take 7 steps around the sacred fire.

Registration: Section 8

After the marriage has taken place & the couple has started to live together, the marriage should be registered after minimum 30 days. Under section 8 of Hindu marriage act the government is allowed to make rules for registration of marriage.

The purpose of registering a marriage is that it gives a written evidence of the fact that the marriage has taken place so it becomes easier to be admissible in the court of law in case any complications arise.

Divorce: Section 13

Divorce is the dissolution of marriage as per Hindu law. While being in a marital relationship it is expected that both the parties will have some rules & responsibilities to abide by. The relationship needs to be guarded specified by some law.

Grounds for divorce: Section 13 (1)

Under the Hindu marriage act,1955 there are 9 grounds based on which one can seek divorce from his/her partner. These are:

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1. CRUELTY:

Cruelty as a ground for judicial separation was added only after 1976. The word cruelty has been used with respect to human conduct or behavior. It can be physical, mental, intentional or unintentional.

2. DESERTION:

Desertion means to leave one’s own spouse without any reason or without the consent of the spouse.
There are 2 essential conditions for desertion:

  1. the reality of the separation
  2. the desire to put an end to the relation

Similarly there are 2 elements for the deserted spouse:

  1. lack of consent
  2. lack of valid cause

3. ADULTERY:

Adultery is the consensual sexual between a married person & a person of opposite sex other than his own spouse.
In Subbaramma v. Saraswati ,Court held that one single act of adultery is enough for divorce or judicial separation.

4. INSANITY:

Under The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976, Section 13(iii) if the partner is not of sound mind & is mentally insensible judicial separation is possible.

5. LEPROSY:

Divorce is possible if leprosy is in the stage of
a) virulent
b) incurable
If leprosy is of mild type & is curable then divorce under this ground is not possible.

6. VENEREAL DISEASE:

Communicable disease can be a ground for divorce as per section 13(5) of the Hindu marriage act.

7. CONVERSION:

Divorce can be obtained if a partner is converted to Islam, Christianity, Parsi or Zoroastrianism & ceased to be a Hindu.

8. RENUNCIATION OF WORLD:

It means a person has chosen to lead a non secular life . Divorce under this clause is only possible if
a) the respondent has renounced the world
b) respondent must have entered some religious order.

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9. PRESUMPTION OF DEATH:

If the person has not been heard or seen for at least seven years, it is presumed that the person is no longer alive and the partner can seek divorce.

Along with that a wife may also seek divorce if:

a) the husband was already married to another woman
b) the husband is guilty of rape or sodomy
c) cohabitation is not continued
d) wife was below 18 years of age at the time of marriage

Alimony ( Parmanent maintenance)

At the time of divorce the court decides the amount to be paid by one party to the other for maintenance & support. It can be a monthly payment. The amount is decided by the court on the grounds of social and economic status of the party.

Remarriage

Remarriage among Hindus is only possible when the previous marriage is dissolved by the decree of divorce or is dissolved due to the civil death of the previous partner.

Conclusion

In India marriage is one of the most important social institutions. Especially among the Hindus marriage is considered to be a sacred bond. During pre independence & early post independence period there were a lot of problems that arose between married couples.

There was an instant need to have some legal remedies that could safeguard the rights of both husband and wife. Hindu marriage act,1955 codifies the rights and duties of Hindu couples. Marriage is a multilevel commitment . Thus, this enactment is responsible for uniformity of law among all the Hindu couples.

Author: Sholanki Bhowmik,
Ramaiah College of law, 2nd year, law student