Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 in short

The Hindu Marriage Act by an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1955 it’s a part of Hindu Code Bills with three other important acts: the Hindu Succession Act (1956), the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956), the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956). But in this article we focus on Hindu Marriage Act 1955.

This law was made to qualify Hindu marriages , it covers marriages between Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. But this law was not specify religious marriage rituals but to rectify Sastrik Law this was a law from British rulers. Sastrik Law did not had regulations for separation and divorce, even death would not end marriage so widow was considered married and remarriage was not permitted by law.

These are few of many things Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 rectified although some religion specific codes are also maintained which seprate from other religious laws.

Conditions

Section 5 specifies that conditions must be met for a marriage to be able to take place. If a ceremony takes place, but the conditions are not met, the marriage is either void by default, or voidable.

Void marriages

A marriage may be declared void if it breaks any of the following condition:

  1. Either party is under age.The bridegroom should be of at-least 21 years of age and the bride of 18 years.
  2. Either party is not of a Hindu religion.Both the bridegroom and the bride should be of the Hindu religion at the time of marriage.
  3. Either party is already married. A marriage can only be solemnized if neither party has a living husband/wife at the time of marriage.
  4. The parties are within the degree of prohibited relationship.

Voidable marriages

A marriage may later be voidable (annulled) if it breaks any of the following conditions:

  1. Either party is impotent, unable to consummate the marriage, or otherwise unfit for the procreation of children.
  2. One party did not willingly consent. In order to consent, both parties must be sound mind and capable of understanding the associations of marriage. If either party suffers from a mental disorder like recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy, then it may be assumed that consent was not given. If consent was forced or obtained fraudulently, then the marriage may be voidable.
  3. The bride was pregnant by another man other then the bridegroom at the time of the marriage.

Registration

Conditions for registering:

  1. a ceremony of marriage has been performed; and
  2. the parties have been living together as husband and wife

The parties must have been residing within the district of the Marriage Officer for a period of not less than thirty days immediately after the date on which the application is made for registration.

Registration provides written evidence of  marriage. As such, the Hindu Marriage Register should be open for inspection at all reasonable times (allowing anyone to obtain proof of marriage) and should be admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Divorce

The following grounds can be invoked for securing a divorce under this act:

  1. Adultery: During the period of marriage, if either spouse maintains sexual relations with a person other than his or her lawfully wedded companion.
  2. Cruelty: After the marriage, subjecting the petitioner to cruelty.
  3. Desertion: If either one of the parties to the marriage deserts the other for a consistent span of at least two years , prior to  the filing of the petition by the other party.
  4. Conversion to another religion by either party other than Hinduism
  5. Mental Disorder: If the spouse of the petitioner suffers from any unsoundness of mind, mental illness or disorder that cannot be cured, then the petitioner can file for divorce
  6. Virulent and Incurable Disease: in the form of leprosy.
  7. Venerable Disease in Communicable form.
  8. The renunciation of the world or entered any religious order.
  9. Not heard being alive for a period of seven years or more.