Analytical Study of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
Introduction & Background:
Hindu Marriage Act, a part of Hindu Code Bill was enacted and enforced on 18 May 1955 by parliament to amend and codify laws for Hindu marriages. It regulates the institution of marriage for Hindu’s and protect different aspects of their personal lives. It provide a roadmap to Hindu’s for an efficient marriage bond.
This regulation was created to avert the various problems that existed under British rule as a result of immature Hindu marriage law. This act secures rights of Bride, Groom, their families and children.
It applies to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as anybody who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew who is not controlled by another legislation. This law applies to everyone who is a Hindu by birth or by faith. A full definition of Hindu is in Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
Hindu Marriage act, 1955
“Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande v State of Maharashtra”
Facts- Appellant Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande, got married to the complainant, Indubai, in the year 1956. Their union was solemnised in accordance with religious rituals and customs. During this period, appellant married Kamlabai, in February 1962. Complainant subsequently charged Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande with violating Section 494 of IPC, and his brother with violating Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code. Their appeal was dismissed by the Session Judge. Their appeal was similarly unsuccessful in the High Court. They opted for a special leave appeal.
Is the second marriage that appellant solemnised legitimate or not?
Whether the appellant is guilty of violating Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code
Judgement- There was a strong need to establish if the second marriage was solemnised through the use of customary customs. Two ceremonies are part of the traditional rites: (1) invocation before the sacred fire and (2) Saptapadi. At first glance, the phrase "whoever… marries" must imply "whoever… marries legitimately". The second marriage is null and void since no customary or religious ceremonies were conducted. In the eyes of the law, a marriage that is not legitimate. The marriage will not meet the first criterion of Section 17 if it is not solemnised, thus it cannot be deemed void. As a result, it will not be considered a violation of “Section 494 IPC”. As a result, the appellant is found not guilty of the allegations laid against him under “Section 494 IPC” and is acquitted.
Analysis and Conclusion:
Analysis: The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 brought about changes.
Certain changes came after enforcement of this act which catered as a reform to society. Certain trends and patriarchy to an extent got dissolved.
Religion is no longer a major factor in Hindu marriages. Rather than being sacramental, it is the product of mutual consent.
The Act is the first time that Hindus are forced to practise monogamy. The Indian Penal Code officially makes bigamy a crime.
Caste concerns for inter-caste and inter-communal marriages have been rendered obsolete, removing all prohibitions.
The Act currently makes no distinction between a maiden's marriage and a widow's marriage.
Although ancient Hindu law did not specify an age limit for marriage, it is currently a requirement that the bridegroom be at least 21 years old and the bride be at least 18 years old. (Section 5).
The Act provides for judicial separation, divorce, and annulment of marriages while removing prohibitions. (Section 10 to 14).
Either partner may remarry after a legal divorce (Section 15).
Provisions concerning the validity of children born from marriages that may later be ruled annulled, invalid, or voidable (Section 16).
Alimony and maintenance on a permanent basis (Section 25).
Minor children's custody, support, and education while legal processes are pending as well as after a decree is issued (Section 26).
In terms of gender fairness, the laws still have a long way to go. The status of husband and wife is granted in Hindu law by solemnization with the required ceremonies, and if these are not completed, the marriage is null and void (unless custom permits it) as we see in the above case law. Many women are unaware of the rituals that apply to them, unaware that this is not a legal marriage. Many cases of bigamy prosecution fail due to a lack of evidence that the second marriage was solemnised with the proper rituals and ceremonies.
Under Section 15(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, property discrimination is still a problem. When a woman dies, her husband's heirs are given priority over her own parents. When a man dies, though, his property is passed on to his relatives. This is definitely a breach Right to equality. Maintenance is a right, not a charity. Maintenance regulations, are conditional on behavioural standards. The wife should not remarry and should be pure. The criminalization of marital rape is another issue that need immediate action. Laws must safeguard married females from their spouses' forced sexual activities. Irreversible collapse of marriage is not recognised a viable cause for divorce under Hindu law.
Law change must keep up with societal progress while still promoting constitutional equality rights. Despite the codification of Hindu law and numerous changes, there is still a long way to go.