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THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written by: Greeshmika Ponnada


INTRODUCTION


Marriage is a sacred union that creates a union between two people. Marriage is a socially sanctioned union between a woman and a man which is regulated by rules, beliefs, orders, and customs which prescribe different duties to the partners. India is one of the country's that is known for its marriage customs and culture. In India, there are different marriage laws for different religions. The main idea behind creating these laws is to provide security to the bride and the groom.


THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT


The Hindu Marriage Act is an act passed by the Parliament of Indian in 1955. The Hindu marriage act is one of the acts passed under Hindu code bills that aimed to reform the Hindu personal laws in the 1950s. This act was enacted to protect the rights of the bride and the groom who are Hindu by religion and also to codify the Hindu marriage laws in India. This act also introduced the separation of married people i.e., divorce which doesn't exist in Sanskrit law. This act applies to all the people belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain religions. The Hindu marriage act consists of many important sections which have some important rules and components of the act.


IMPORTANT PROVISIONS OF HINDU MARRIAGE ACT


  • Section 2 of the Hindu marriage act,1955 says that “this act applicable to any person who belongs to Hindu religion or its other forms such as Lingayat, Virashaiva, follower of Brahmo, Arya Samaj”. This act applies to any person who is a Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain by religion, as specified in Article 44 of the Constitution of India. This act is also applicable to the persons who domicile in the territory of India to which this act extends and is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jewish unless it is proved that they are not governed under any customs by the act. In 2012 Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill was passed which specifies the laws related to marriage in the Sikh religion.


  • Section 5 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 is related to the conditions that are to be fulfilled by two Hindus in a marriage. The first and the most important condition is that at the time of the marriage the age of the bride should be 18 years or above and the groom should be 21 years or above. At the time of the marriage, neither party should have a living spouse, neither of the party should be incapable of giving the consent, a party if mentally unstable, though capable of giving consent is unfit for marriage and the parties should not have a ‘sapinda’( a word used for cousin marriage in Hinduism) relationship between them.


  • Section 6 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 is related to guardianship for marriage. According to this act, in the marriage whenever the consent of the guardianship is necessary for the bride, the guardian is entitled to do so. The guardian can be the father, the mother, paternal grandmother, paternal grandfather, full blood brother of the bride, and also the guardian should be above 21 years old. In case of the absence of the guardian, then the consent of the guardian is not necessary under this act. Later, in 1978 the guardianship for marriage was repealed when the child marriage restraint amendment [1]was passed which increased the minimum age for marriage.


  • Section 7 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 recognizes the ceremonies and customs for a Hindu marriage. The marriage can be conducted following the customs and rituals of either the bride or groom. These rituals include saptapadhi i.e. taking seven steps around the fire binding the marriage.


  • Section 8 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 has provisions for the registration of Hindu marriages. This provision states that the state government can make any rules and conditions for the registration of the marriages and the parties who have filled their particulars relating to their marriage entered through registration are subject to restrictions that are prescribed in the Hindu marriage registration. The main purpose of the registration is to provide proof of Hindu marriages. The register is open to inspection at all important times.


  • Section 9 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 has provisions for restitution of conjugal rights of both wife and husband who are bound together under the act. This states that if either the wife or the husband without proper excuses withdraws from the other party then the suffered party may approach the court for restitution of conjugal rights. Here, if the suit succeeds then the couple has to live together. If the respondent is capable of claiming matrimonial relief, if the petitioner accepts of committing any matrimonial misconduct and if the petitioner makes it impossible for the spouse to stay with him/ her then the petition for restitution of conjugal rights can be rejected.


  • Section 10 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 deals with judicial separation. Any spouse who is unhappy or hurt by the actions of another spouse can file a petition for judicial separation in a district court. To file the petition all the important aspects of the Hindu marriage act must be satisfied by the couple. The spouse can file a petition for judicial separation on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion, unsound mind, bigamy, rape or bestiality, repudiation of marriage.


  • Adultery: adultery means where a spouse voluntarily has physical intercourse with another person except the partner. In the case of Revathi VS Union of India[2], the court held that section 497 of the Indian Penal Code[3] is designed in such a way that the husband cannot prosecute his wife for committing adultery. The law does not permit the husband of offending the wife to prosecute his wife and also it does not permit the wife of offending the husband. Here they don't have the right to use criminal law.


  • Cruelty: when the partner either wife or husband treats the other cruelly or causes any physical or mental pain it is considered cruelty. In Shyamsundar VS Shantadevi[4]case after her marriage, the wife was harmed and tortured by her husband's relatives. Here the husband failed to protect his wife. The court, in this case, declared that the husband must protect his wife.


  • Desertion: Desertion gives the right for judicial separation when one spouse leaves the other for anyone reason without informing him or her for 2 years or above then the other spouse can file a petition. In the case of Guru Bachan Kaur VS Preetam Singh[5]the husband filed a petition for separation after 7 years of desertion. He never understood her problems but the wife is ready to stay with him. In this case, the High Court held that there is nothing like mutual desertion and one of the spouses has to be guilty of desertion.


  • Section 11 of the Hindu marriage act 1955is related to void marriages. This section states that any marriage that fails to follow any of the provisions of the Hindu marriage act is considered to be void. The marriage will not be enforceable and also it will not be considered valid legally.


  • Section 12 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 is related to voidable marriages. This section states that a marriage is considered to be voidable if no physical intercourse has been done after the marriage i.e. impotence of the husband if one of the parties is a minor, consent of the bride if the husband has made another woman pregnant ( other than his wife).


  • Section 15 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 says that after the divorce or judicial separation then both the parties are eligible for remarriage. A second marriage is possible and is lawful only after the dismissal of the appeal against the divorce.


  • Section 24 of the Hindu marriage act 1955under this section if either of the parties appears to the court for not being financially independent, insufficient income then on the application of the sufferer the court orders the petitioner to pay some of the expenses of proceedings, monthly expenses of the respondent only if it is reasonable to the do so.


  • Section 25 of the Hindu marriage act 1955 states that the court can order the respondent to pay the petitioner a lump sum amount for his or her lifetime.


  • Section 26 of the Hindu marriage act 1955is about the maintenance and custody of the minor child including his or her education during and after the process of judicial separation.


CONCLUSION


The Hindu marriage act of the Parliament was passed to keep the purity of the marriage and not to misuse this institution in any form. The people in India have faith and belief in this act as it provides justice and relief to the persons who are unhappy with their marriage. This act is one of the best ways to solve marital disputes and it gives relief to suffers. Although there are some loopholes in this act it is fair in most cases. In 2010 the marriage laws amendment bill was passed to amend the Hindu marriage act 1955 and the special marriage act of 1956.


[1]Child marriage restraint act 1978 [2]AIR 1988 SC 835 [3]The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Act 45 of 1860), s.497 [4]AIR 1961 All 563 [5]1998 (1) AWC 275

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