Ceremonies compulsory for valid marriage under Hindu Marriage Act: Supreme Court

Latest News

The Supreme Court recently held that for a valid marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, a mere certificate would not suffice and requisite ceremonies have to be performed mandatorily.

A Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih said the absence of the ceremony would mean no marital status is conferred on the couple.

“For a valid marriage under the Act, the requisite ceremonies have to be performed and there must be proof of performance of the said ceremony when an issue/controversy arise. Unless the parties have undergone such ceremony, there would be no Hindu marriage according to Section 7 of the Act and a mere issuance of a certificate by an entity in the absence of the requisite ceremonies having been performed, would neither confirm any marital status to the parties nor establish a marriage under Hindu law,” the Court said.,

Where a Hindu marriage is not performed in accordance with the applicable rites or ceremonies, the marriage will not be construed as a Hindu marriage, the Court underscored.

Justice bv nagarathna and Justice augustine george masih
The observations came while allowing an application under Article 142 of the Constitution (plenary powers of the Supreme Court to do complete justice in a case) in a transfer petition.

The divorce, maintenance and criminal proceedings against the parties were eventually quashed in view of the marriage not having been legalised in terms of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The couple in the case had not solemnised their marriage as per Hindu rites but only registered their marriage under Section 8 of the Act.

They had obtained a “marriage certificate” from Vadik Jankalyan Samiti. Based on this certificate, they obtained a “Certificate of Registration of Marriage” under the Uttar Pradesh Marriage Registration Rules, 2017 and got their marriage registered under Section 8 of the Act.

The Court ruled that in the absence of there being a valid Hindu marriage, the Marriage Registration Officer cannot register such a marriage under the provisions of Section 8 of the Act.

“Therefore, if a certificate is issued stating that the couple had undergone marriage and if the marriage ceremony had not been performed in accordance with Section 7 of the Act, then the registration of such marriage under Section 8 would not confer any legitimacy to such a marriage,” the Court said.

The registration of a marriage under Section 8 of the Act is only to confirm that the parties have undergone a valid marriage ceremony in accordance with Section 7 of the Act, the Bench made it clear.

It also delved into the importance of marriage in its ruling.

The Court took exception to what it flagged as the trend of Indian marriages being registered without valid ceremonies necessary under the Hindu Marriage Act.

It observed that marriage as an institution holds great value in Indian society, and parents of couples should not encourage any on-paper registrations.

“We deprecate the practice of young men and women seeking to acquire the status of being a husband and a wife to each other and therefore purportedly being married, in the absence of a valid marriage ceremony under the provisions of the Act,” it said.

It also took exception to parents approving the union of their kids in the manner as in instant case, observing,

“Parents of young couples agree for registration of a marriage in order to apply for Visa for emigration to foreign countries where either of the parties may be working “in order to save time” and pending formalising a marriage ceremony. Such practices have to be deprecated. What would be the consequence, if no such marriage is solemnised at all at a future date? What would be the status of the parties then? Are they husband and wife in law and do they acquire such status in society?”

The apex court noted that Hindu marriage has a sacred character and as such provides a ‘lifelong, dignity-affirming, equal, consensual and healthy union of two individuals’.

“A Hindu marriage facilitates procreation, consolidates the unit of family and solidifies the spirit of fraternity within various communities … It is considered to be an event that confers salvation upon the individual especially when the rites and ceremonies are conducted. The customary ceremonies, with all its attendant geographical and cultural variations is said to purify and transform the spiritual being of an individual,” the Court stated.

Thus, the youth were urged to introspect about the institution of marriage and how they plan to enter into the same.

“A marriage is not an event for ‘song and dance’ and ‘wining and dining’ or an occasion to demand and exchange dowry and gifts by undue pressure leading to possible initiation of criminal proceedings thereafter. A marriage is not a commercial transaction. It is a solemn foundational event celebrated so as to establish a relationship between a man and a woman who acquire the status of a husband and wife for an evolving family in future which is a basic unit of Indian society.”

It also stressed that the rituals to solemnise a Hindu marriage should be ‘assiduously, strictly and religiously followed’ rather than being treated as a trivial affair.

“The sincere conduct of and participation in the customary rites and ceremonies under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 ought to be ensured by all married couples and priests who preside over the ceremony. The promises made to each by the parties to a Hindu marriage and the oath taken by them to remain friends forever lay the foundation for a life-long commitment between the spouses which should be realized by them. If such commitment to each other is adhered to by the couple, then there would be far fewer cases of breakdown of marriages leading to divorce or separation,” the judgment said.

Advocates Dhruv Gupta, Kumar Prashant, Aprajita Mishra, Vanya Gupta, Himanshi Shakya, Aditya Vaibhav Singh, Tarun Kumar Sobti, and Madhu Yadav appeared for the wife.

Advocate Rukhsana Choudhury appeared for the husband.

Source Link

Leave a Reply