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  • Types of Marriages under Hindu Marriage Act,1955
  • Essential Grounds of Valid, Void & Voidable Marriages
  • Rights and Status of an Illegitimate Child 


In India, religiously based personal rules govern marriage, which is a private matter. As a result, depending on the individual’s faith, we have separate laws that define different types of marriages, requirements for legitimate marriages, void marriages, voidable marriages, etc. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, applies to Hindus. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 applies to Muslims, and the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 applies to Christians. The 1954 Special Marriage Act was also created to legalize weddings between different religions. The aforementioned laws require us to confirm a marriage’s legality.

People who identify as Hindus include individuals who are born into the religion, those who convert to it, and all other people who practice it.  All individuals who identify as Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, or Sikh by faith, as well as those who convert and then revert to Hinduism, are covered by the Hindu Marriage Act,1955.



The requirements for a valid marriage are outlined in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. When a marriage is deemed valid, it fulfills a number of conditions as mentioned in the following.



The Hindu Marriage Act’s section 5(i) states that the absence of a living spouse for one of the parties at the time of marriage is the first prerequisite for a Hindu marriage to be deemed lawful.

Section 5 (i) may be interpreted with Section 11,17 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which makes a Hindu guilty of the offence of bigamy under Section 491 of the Indian Penal Code, and it is ultra vires to the constitution on the theory that it violates Article 14, 15, or 25(1) of the Indian Constitution.


According to Section 5(ii) of the Act, neither party may be unable to give free and valid consent at the moment of marriage due to mental illness, insanity, or unsound mind.  A Hindu marriage taken in defiance of this provision is not per se void, but voidable under Section 12 (1)(b) of the Act.

  • AGE:

According to Section 5 (iii) of the Act, the male must be at least 21 years old and the female must be at least 18 years old when they get married. Any violation of the required age under this paragraph is not void or even voidable, but rather a breach of condition punishable by simple imprisonment for up to fifteen days, a fine, or both under Section 18(a) of the Act.


According to Section 5 (iv) of the Act, unless such a union is permitted by customs or usage, neither party shall be in a degree of a forbidden connection under Section 11 of the Act, a marriage consummated within the forbidden degrees of relationship is null and void and subject to fines, simple imprisonment for up to one month, or both under Section 3(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act must be legitimate if it is in use. Only in the presence of an established custom will a marriage formed within the parameters of an illegal relationship be recognized as lawful and legitimate.


Section 3(f)(ii) of the Act states that two individuals are considered “sapindas” of one another if one of them is the other’s lineal ascendant within the parameters of a sapinda relationship, or if they have a common lineal ascendant that falls within the parameters of a sapinda connection with respect to each of them. 

Except in cases where such unions are permitted by custom or practice, sapinda marriages are forbidden and punishable under Section 18(b). Consequently, marriages between relatives by blood are null and void under this clause.


Pinninti Venkataramana & Ors vs. State:

In this case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court considered the legal question of whether a Hindu marriage that occurs without complying with Section 5 (iii) is deemed void ab initio, or no marriage in the eyes of the law. As Sections 11 and 12 wash their hands of Section 5 (iii), the Honourable Court stated that interpreting the language of the condition does not allow for a conclusion to be drawn about the fate of the marriage in breach of the condition. As a result, violating Section 5 (iii) appears to have no substantial consequences.

Gurwinder Singh vs. State of Punjab:

In the decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the importance of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution in protecting every citizen’s life and personal liberty, which must be safeguarded by the State entrusted with the safeguarding duty. While considering Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, the court observed that, while violating the provision’s conditions does not render the marriage void in and of itself, the life and liberty of the parties involved in the marriage must be protected on the grounds that Article 21 takes precedence over the Hindu marriage legislation. The Court made its ruling based on the merits of the case.


According to Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, a marriage is deemed null and void if any of the following requirements are not satisfied.


a.    BIGAMY:

The act of getting married to someone while still legally married to someone else is known as bigamy.

According to Section 5 (i) of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, parties to the marriage must not have a living spouse at the time of the marriage.


The Supreme Court ruled in  Smt. Yamunabai vs. Anant Rao that a woman in a second marriage is not deemed a wife as the marriage is void ab initio, thus she is not eligible to receive maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


As per the Hindu Marriage Act’s Section 3(g), two individuals are considered to be within the degrees of prohibited relationship when they:

  • If either one is the other’s lineal descendant or ascendant.
  • If one was the other’s wife or husband.
  • If one was the other’s brother, father’s, mother’s, grandfather’s, or grandmother’s brother.
  • If the two are siblings.
  • If they are uncle and niece, aunt and nephew.
  • If they are children of one another, sisters, or two brothers.

The marriage within the degree of prohibited relationship is void by Section 5(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act. Additionally, according to Section 5 (iv), a marriage will be regarded as legitimate if both party’s customs or usage of one another permits it.

According to Section 18(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, parties to such marriages may be punished with a fine of up to 1000 rupees, simple imprisonment for up to one month, or both.

c.    SAPINDA:

A sapinda relation occurs, as per Hindu law, when two people offer pinda to the same ancestor. Relationships that are based on shared blood are known as sapinda relations. If someone marries in a sapinda relationship, their marriage is regarded as null and void.

Section 3 (f) of the Hindu Marriage Act defines sapinda as the following:

The Sapinda relationship with any person extends as far as the third generation in the ascent’s line through the mother and the fifth in the ascent’s line through the father, with the line traced upwards in each case from the person in question, who is considered the first generation.

Two people are said to be sapindas of each other if one is a lineal ascendant of the other within the limitations of the sapinda relationship, or if they have a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of sapinda connection with reference to both of them.

 Section 5(v) of the Hindu Marriage Act declares the marriage within the Sapinda null and void. According to it, a marriage shall be deemed lawful if both parties' custom or usage of one another permits it. According to Section 18 (b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, parties to such a marriage may be punished with either a fine of up to 1000 rupees or a simple imprisonment of up to one month.


  • In a null marriage, the partners do not hold the roles of husband and wife. 
  • According to Section 16 Hindu Marriage Act, children born from a void marriages are legitimate.
  • It was underlined, nonetheless, that a child of this type cannot be presumed to be a coparcener in the HUF  by default.

In a null and void marriage, there are no shared rights or obligations.


A voidable marriage is one that can be dissolved by any party. Until a petition to invalidate the marriage is filed, it will remain lawful. A competent court shall declare this marriage null and void in accordance with the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. The decision of whether to continue with the marriage or declare it null and void rests with the persons involved.



Under Section 12(1)(a) of the Act, one spouse may file for the annulment of the other’s marriage if the other is incapable of carrying out the marriage owing to impotence. The inability to carry out the vows must have existed at the time of the union and had to be irreversible. The Supreme Court ruled in Smt. S vs. S that impotence has to be total and incapable of being cured by medicine.


Section 12(1)(c) of the Act allows for the annulment of a marriage if either partner was duped, coerced, or subjected to undue influence before becoming married. The party requesting the annulment must provide evidence that coercion, fraud, or undue influence was used to get the consent. The court determined that consent must be gained at the time of marriage, not before or after the ceremony in the case of Maya Devi vs. Jagdish Prasad.


Section 12 (1)(b) of the Act allows for the annulment of a marriage if either party was duped into being married. The degree of the fraud must be such that, had the other party known the truth, it would have prohibited them from getting married. The court decided in a case that if the fraud is so severe that it undermines the foundation of the marriage, it may be dissolved.


Under Section 12 (1)(d) of the Act, the husband may request the annulment of the marriage if the wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage by someone other than him. It must be demonstrated, therefore, that the spouse was unaware of the pregnancy at the time of the union.


Under Section 12 (1)(c) of the Act, the other party may request the annulment of the marriage if one of the parties had a mental illness at the time of the marriage. The other party had to be unaware of the disorder at the time of the marriage, and the disorder had to be severe enough to render the affected party unfit for the marriage.


The marriage may be dissolved in accordance with Section 12 (1)(a) of the Act if the parties are in one of the prohibited relationship ranges. The Act’s Schedule I lists the permissible levels of relationship. However, if the marriage fits under any of the exclusions listed in Schedule II of the Act, it can be recognised.


Under Section 12 (1)(c) of the Act, a marriage may be dissolved if one of the parties was too drunk or mentally incompetent to provide legal consent at the time of the marriage.


Hindu law recognises marriage as lawful if it satisfies the requirements outlined in Sections 7 and 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Offspring resulting from these lawful unions enjoy complete legality. Under Sections 11 and 12 of the Act, the resulting marriage may or may not be void if the requirements outlined in Section 5 of the Act are not fulfilled. 

Annulled Marriage: An invalid marriage is defined in the Hindu Marriage Act Section 11. It declares that if any of the requirements outlined in Section 5 are broken, a marriage is null and void, and any children born out of such unions are regarded as illegitimate. Unlawful Marriage The Hindu Marriage Act lays out the reasons why marriage is null and void in Section 12. The offspring of a marriage deemed null and void to any of the grounds outlined in Article 12 will be deemed illegitimate. In addition to the aforementioned, a marriage will not be deemed lawful if the correct ceremonies are not carried out at the moment of marriage by Article 7 of the Hindu Marriage law. Offspring resulting from these types of unions are also considered illegitimate.

An illegitimate child under Hindu law can be summarised as:

  • Children from illicit partnerships.
  • Children born by concubines.
  • Children from invalid/ cancellable marriages
  • Children from invalid marriages, a child born out of an invalid marriage because procedures were not performed properly.

In essence, marriage determines a person’s legal status under Hindu law. The behaviour of their parents determines the social standing of their children. If two people are legally married, then their children are too. However, an innocent child produced outside of wedlock or whose parents entered an annulled marriage foolishly and recklessly is considered illegitimate. Children who are innocent and unable to control or influence their parent’s behaviour must bear the consequences.



The Hindu Adoption Act, of 1956, states that Hindus have a duty to care for illegitimate children while they are still alive. Fathers and mothers are now required to provide support for illegitimate offspring. Illegitimate parents have the right to raise their children as do both types of children. But only minors are eligible for maintenance claims. When they become adults, illegitimate children are not eligible for child support from their parents. In addition, should these children convert to another faith and become non-Hindus, they will no longer be entitled to child support.


The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 made it impossible for the Sudra’s illegitimate sons to inherit their father’s wealth. In the past, a Dasiputra who was an illegitimate son of a shudra was entitled to succeed his father. The law now says that he cannot.


Before the Hindu Succession Act was passed, an illegitimate child who had entered the father’s estate as co-owner alongside his legitimate children and had the authority to impose division on the latter’s children was no longer legally related and thus legally unable to carry on his father’s legacy.


It is believed that mothers protect the natural world. For an illegitimate child, the Hindu Minorities and Guardianship Act 1956, Section 6 of the Act, the tribe, community, group, or family to which the parent belongs or has belonged, and any parent of the child who is or was a member of any of these religions, if any, and if the child was raised as a member of one of them.


Revanasiddappa vs. Mallikarjun: 

The Supreme Court held that a constitutional principle that is based on the ideas of individual dignity and equal position and opportunity is protected by the Constitution’s Preamble. The legal system needs to be reminded that even though a parental relationship may not be recognized, a child born in such a relationship is innocent and has all the rights granted to any other child born in a lawful marriage. The child’s birth in such a relationship must be seen independently of the parental relationship.

Raja Jogendra Bhupati Hurri Chundun Mahapatra vs. Nityan and Mansingh & Anr:

The reality was that Raja was Sudra and that upon his death, he left behind three widows as well as an illegitimate son, daughter, and son. When the Raja’s legal son passed away, it was unclear if his illegitimate son would be able to inherit his wealth. Illegitimate children are entitled to inherit the Raja based only on survival, according to a ruling by the Privy Council.


“Marriage is an institution to save us from the tyranny of sex and also for the progression of the human race,” declared the Supreme Court. The establishment of law and order in society is a crucial function of this organization, These laws are not still, though. They continuously adapt to the social environment.

The parties had no way out of the marriage before the Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955. Sections 11 and 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act provide a remedy for parties who are in void or voidable marriages. After the Amendment Act of 1976, a child born from a void of voidable marriage is considered genuine. Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955, specifies the reasons for legitimate marriage, if one of these grounds is violated, the marriage is void or voidable.

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