Hindu Marriage Invalid If Requisite Ceremonies Not Performed: SC 

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Hindu Marriage Invalid If Requisite Ceremonies Not Performed: SC 

| Updated: May 1, 2024 12:25

Just registration won’t make a marriage legitimate, said the apex court

In a startling ruling recently, the Supreme Court stressed that for a Hindu marriage to be valid, it must be performed with the appropriate rites and ceremonies, such as ‘saptapadi’ (seven steps around the sacred fire), and proof of the ceremonies is essential in case of disputes.

The apex court was clarifying the legal requirements and sanctity of Hindu marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

A bench comprising Justices B V Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih observed: “Where a Hindu marriage is not performed in accordance with the applicable rites or ceremonies such as saptapadi when included, the marriage will not be construed as a Hindu marriage…”

“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 stated.

Legitimacy of marriage

The Court stated that while registration of a Hindu marriage under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act facilitates proof of the marriage, it does not confer legitimacy if the marriage was not solemnized according to Section 7 of the Act, which specifies the requirements for a valid Hindu marriage ceremony. There cannot be no registration of a Hindu marriage if it has not been performed as per the custom, the court stated.

The Supreme Court deprecated marriages of convenience for “practical purposes” without following customs. “In the absence of any solemnisation of a marriage as per the provisions of the Act, a man and a woman cannot acquire the status of being a husband and a wife to each other.” 

The Court made these observations while hearing a petition filed by a wife seeking transfer of divorce proceedings against her. The husband and wife agreed to file a joint application for a declaration that their marriage was not valid.

They stated that there was no “marriage” solemnized by them as no customs, rites and rituals were performed. However, due to “certain exigencies and pressures”, they were constrained to obtain a certificate of solemnisation and on the basis of that certificate they sought registration under the Uttar Pradesh Registration Rule, 2017 and a “Certificate of Marriage” was issued by the Registrar of Marriages.

The Supreme Court, after noting that no marriage was solemnized, declared that there was no valid marriage.

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