The Hindu marriage act was enacted in 1955 by an Act of the Parliament. The main objective of this Act is to amend and codify the Hindu marriage laws. It also contains provisions relating to separation and divorce. It brought uniformity of law for all the sections of Hindus. Let us now discuss this Act in detail.
The Hindu Marriage Act – 1955
As per Section 2 of the Act, it is applicable to any person who is a Hindu by religion including a Virashaiva, and a Lingayat. It also includes a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj.
This Act also applies to Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. It also applies to any person residing in the territories of India to which it extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew.
However, Sikhs now also have their own personal law related to marriage under the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill in 2012. Also, under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, an arranged marriage or Arya Samaj marriage is directly registered by the Registrar of Marriage on the same working day.
The Registrar verifies all the documents on the date of application and registers the marriage on the same working day and issues the marriage certificate.
Conditions for a Hindu marriage
Section 5 of the Act lays down the following conditions for a marriage between any two Hindus, at the time of marriage:
- Neither of them has a spouse living
- Neither of them is of unsound mind and thus, incapable of giving valid consent.
- None of the two, though is capable of giving valid consent, is suffering from a mental disorder which makes them unfit for marriage and a. the procreation of children.
- The bride has completed 18 years of age and the bridegroom has completed 21 years of age.
- They are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship.
- They are not cousins as the Hindu law does not permit marriages among the cousins.
As per Section 7, the marriage may be solemnized as per the customary rites and ceremonies of either of the party to the marriage. However, the rites and rituals include the Saptapadi. It refers to the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire. The marriage becomes complete and binding after taking the seventh step.
Nullity of Marriage and Divorce
A marriage can be annulled and is voidable on the following grounds:
- The marriage has not been accomplished due to the complete or partial impotence.
- On the non-fulfillment of the conditions specified in Section 5.
- The wife was pregnant with the child of someone else other than the husband at the time of marriage.
A husband or a wife can seek divorce on the following grounds:
- Abandonment for a continuous period of two or more years.
- Conversion to another religion.
- Due to mental abnormality, venereal disease, and leprosy.
- If any of them marries again after the commencement of their first marriage.
- When the husband is guilty of rape, sodomy, or bestiality.
Solved Example on Hindu Marriage Act
Explain the Supreme Court ruling of 2012 relating to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?
Answer: As per this ruling, the couples can end their marriage by mutual consent before the expiry of the period of six months. Section 13 B of the Act states that the couple looking for divorce through mutual consent need to wait for six months after filing the first joint divorce application. After the expiry of this period only they can file a second application for the dissolution of marriage.
However, as per this ruling, the court stated that in some cases it does not need to follow this procedure and can grant a divorce before the expiry of this period of six months.