• Marriage- Hindu

  • Marriage Under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

    The marriage is the sacred union, legally permissible, of two healthy bodies of opposite sexs. It has to be mental, psychological and physical Union. When two souls thus unite, a new soul comes into existence. That is how, the life goes on and on, on this planet. Marriage is often described as one of the basic civil rights of man/women, which is voluntarily undertaken by the parties in public in a formal way, and once concluded, recognizes the parties as husband and wife. Three elements of common law marriage are

    (1) agreement to be married

    (2) living together as husband and wife,

    (3) holding out to the public that they are married.

    Sharing a common household and duty to live together form part of the Consortium Omnis Vitae which obliges spouses to live together, afford each other reasonable marital privileges and rights and be honest and faithful to each other. One of the most important invariable consequences of marriage is the reciprocal support and the responsibility of maintenance of the common household, jointly and severally.

    Marriage as an institution has great legal significance and various obligations and duties flow out of marital relationship, as per law, in the matter of inheritance of property, successionship, etc. Marriage, therefore, involves legal requirements of formality, publicity, exclusivity and all the legal consequences flow out of that relationship.

    Marriages in India take place either following the personal Law of the Religion to which a party is belonged or following the provisions of the Special Marriage Act. Marriage, as per the Common Law, constitutes a contract between a man and a women, in which the parties undertake to live together and support each other. Marriage, as a concept, is also nationally and internationally recognized. O’Regan, J., in Dawood Vs. Minister of Home Affairs (2000) 3 SA 936 (CC) noted as follows: “Marriage and the family are social institutions of vital importance. Entering into and sustaining a marriage is a matter of intense private significance to the parties to that marriage for they make a promise to one another to establish and maintain an intimate relationship for the rest of their lives which they acknowledge obliges them to support one another, to live together and to be faithful to one another. Such relationships are of profound significance to the individuals concerned. But such relationships have more than personal significance at least in part because human beings are social beings whose humanity is expressed through their relationships with others. Entering into marriage therefore is to enter into a relationship that has public significance as well. The institutions of marriage and the family are important social institutions that provide for the security, support and companionship of members of our society and bear an important role in the rearing of children. The celebration of a marriage gives rise to moral and legal obligations, particularly the reciprocal duty of support placed upon spouses and their joint responsibility for supporting and raising children born of the marriage. These legal obligations perform an important social function. This importance is symbolically acknowledged in part by the fact that marriage is celebrated generally in a public ceremony, often before family and close friends....”

    Thus, marriage is an institution/sacred union not only legally permissible but also basic civil right of the man and woman and one of the most important inevitable consequences of marriage is the reciprocal support and the marriage is an institution has great legal significance and right to marry is necessary concomitant of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India as right to life includes right to lead a healthy life.

    Marriage Between Two Hindus Under The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 & The Special Marriage Act, 1954

    Two Hindus can marry in two ways- either by undergoing rites and ceremonies or before the Marriage Registrar. The rites and ceremonies are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 , whereas the marriage before the Registrar is governed by the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The marriage before the Registrar is generally called as Court Marriage.

    So far as the marriage by way of rites and ceremonies is concerned, each religion has prescribed some ceremonies and rituals connected with marriages which are still followed in the religious groups in Indian, depending upon their  geographical location, customs, educational background, social status and various other factors.

    Based on above discussion, marriages between two Hindus can be categorized as follows:

    • Marriage by way of rites and ceremonies
    • Court Marriages

    Pre-conditions for a Hindu Marriage

    A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:

    1. the bridegroom has completed the age of twenty one years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage;
    2. neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;
    3. neither party is incapable of giving a valid consent of it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or
    4. neither party is though capable of giving a valid consent has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or
    5. neither party has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy; etc.

    Marriages By Way of Customary Rites & Ceremonies

    Under Hindu law, marriage is an institution, a meeting of two hearts and mind. In the Vedic period, the sacredness of the marriage tie was repeatedly declared. "The high value placed on the marriage is shown by the long and striking hymn". In Rig Veda, X, 85; "Be, thou, mother of heroic children, devoted to the Gods, Be, thou, Queen in thy father-in-law's household. May all the Gods unite the hearts of us "two into one". Marriage is highly revered in India and we are a Nation that prides itself on the strong foundation of our marriages, come hell or high water, rain or sunshine.

    The marriage of two Hindus may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party to the marriage. Such rites and ceremonies could be saptapadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), when the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken. The marriages under customary rites and ceremonies are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.   

    Registration of Hindu Marriages    

    For the purpose of facilitating the proof of Hindu marriages, the State Governments have the provision of registration of marriages. The Hindu Marriage Register shall at all reasonable times be open for inspection, and shall be admissible as evidence of the statements therein contained and certified extracts therefrom shall, on application, be given by the Registrar on payment to him of the prescribed fee.

    Court Marriages

    Two Hindus may marry before the Court, i.e. the Registrar of Marriages. Such marriages are governed by the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Two Hindus can also marry even abroad.  On foreign land, the Diplomatic & Consular Officers are conferred with the powers of a marriage officer, and they therefore hold in the foreign land itself the Courts for performing marriages of the Indian nationals. Some legal formalities, amongst many others, got to be completed by the Couple who intends to marry, before the marriage officer performs their marriage. Such formalities are thus:

    Step One

    Notices of intended marriage

    When a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties of the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the Specified Form to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.

    Step Two

    Marriage Notice Book and publication

    The Marriage Officer shall keep the notices with the records of his office and shall also forthwith enter a true copy of every such notice in a book prescribed for that purpose, to be called the Marriage Notice Book, and such book shall be open for inspection at all reasonable times, without fee, by any person desirous of inspecting the same.

    The Marriage Officer shall cause every such notice to be published by affixing a copy thereof to some conspicuous place in his office.

    Where either of the parties to an intended marriage is not permanently residing within the local limits of the district of the Marriage Officer to whom the notice has been given the Marriage Officer shall also cause a copy of such notice to be transmitted to the Marriage Officer of the district within whose limits such party is permanently residing, and that Marriage Officer shall thereupon cause a copy thereof to be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.

    Step Three

    Objection to marriage

    Any person may, before the expiration of thirty days from the date on which any such notice has been published object to the marriage on the ground that it would contravene one or more of the conditions specified in the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

    After the expiration of thirty days from the date on which notice of an intended marriage has been published the marriage may be solemnized, unless it has been previously objected to. 

    The nature of the objection shall be recorded in writing by the Marriage Officer in the Marriage Notice Book, be read over and explained if necessary, to the person making the objection and shall be signed by him or on his behalf. 

    Step Four

    Procedure on receipt of objection

    If an objection is made to an intended marriage the Marriage Officer shall not solemnize the marriage until he has inquired into the matter of the objection and is satisfied that it ought not to prevent the solemnization of the marriage or the objection is withdrawn by the person making it; but the Marriage Officer shall not take more than thirty days from the date of the objection for the purpose of inquiring into the matter of the objection and arriving at a decision.

    Step Five

    Declaration by parties and witnesses

    Before the marriage is solemnized the parties and three witnesses shall, in the presence of the Marriage Officer, sign a declaration in the Specified Form, and the declaration shall be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.

    Step Six

    Place and form of solemnization

    The marriage may be solemnized at the office of the Marriage Officer or at such other place within a reasonable distance therefrom as the parties may desire, and upon such conditions and the payments of such additional fees as may be prescribed.

    The marriage may be solemnized in any form which the parties may choose to adopt. Provided however, it shall not be complete and binding on the parties unless each party says to the other in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses and in any language understood by the parties,- "I (A) take thee (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)".

    Step Seven

    Certificate of marriage

    When the marriage has been solemnized the Marriage Officer shall enter a certificate thereof in the Specified Form in a book to be kept by him for that purpose and to be called the Marriage Certificate Book and such certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage and the three witnesses.

    On a certificate being entered in the Marriage Certificate Book by the Marriage Officer, the certificate shall be deemed to be conclusive evidence of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized and that all formalities respecting the signatures of witnesses have been complied with.

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