Section 24 deals with void marriages. As per this section, if any of the pre-conditions laid down in Section 4 are violated, the marriage would be void. Any aggrieved party may also present a petition to declare such a marriage a nullity.
In a judgment delivered yesterday, the Supreme Court observed that there is no limitation period under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 for presenting a petition to declare a “void marriage”, in terms Section 24, a nullity.
The Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and MR Shah has now clarified that a petition to declare such a marriage, which violates Section 4 of the Act, as a nullity may be presented at any time. The Bench pointed out,
“… considering Section 24 read with Section 4 of the [Special Marriage] Act, if at the time of marriage either of the party has spouse living, then the said marriage is a void marriage and a decree of nullity can be passed on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party.
No period of limitation is prescribed so far as presentation of petition for declaration to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Act and rightly so, as once the marriage is void the same is a nullity and at any time the same can be declared as nullity being a void marriage.“
Vinay Navre, advocate for the appellant stated that void marriages under section 24 prescribe no such time period for nullity of marriage. Agreeing to the submissions of the arguments advanced by the appellant lawyer, court stated that appellant is entitled to relief and set aside lower court ruling, who should have considered section 24 of the act and not section 25 in the case before it. The Supreme court therefore allowed the appeal.