Hindu marriage not valid unless performed with requisite ceremonies: SC

The couple had registered their marriage in UP without the valid ceremonial wedding under the HMA.
The Supreme Court of India premises in New Delhi.
The Supreme Court of India premises in New Delhi.File Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: In a significant verdict on the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), the Supreme Court has ruled that the registration of a union will be null and void if a valid ceremony and rituals like the Saptapati, are not performed.

A bench of justices B V Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih described the Hindu marriage as a samskara and a sacrament which has to be accorded its status as an institution of great value in the society.

“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,” the bench said.

The court made these observations after hearing a petition filed by a woman seeking transfer of her divorce case from Muzaffarpur in Bihar to Ranchi in Jharkhand. The couple had registered their marriage in UP without the valid ceremonial wedding under the HMA.

The bench, after perusing the marriage certificate in the case — both are trained commercial pilots — said that since it was issued in the absence of ceremonial requirements under Section 7 of HMA, it was invalid. It also quashed the divorce petition filed by the man and the maintenance case instituted by the woman.

The bench disapproved the increasing practice of couples getting their ‘marriages’ registered for “practical purposes” like applying for a visa and solemnising the union later.

Young men and women must “think deeply about the institution of marriage even before they enter upon it and as to how sacred the said institution is, in Indian society,” the bench said. Describing marriage as sacred as it provides a lifelong, dignity-affirming, equal, consensual and healthy union of two individuals, the bench said a Hindu marriage facilitates procreation, consolidates the unit of family and solidifies the spirit of fraternity within various communities.

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The New Indian Express