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Illegality of Sapinda relationship


BY: Bishrant Khatiwada, SLS, Pune, Email:

Dharma was used to create traditional Hindu law, which consisted of a collection of principles and norms. Dharma encompasses all aspects of one's existence, including social, moral, legal, and religious rights and responsibilities. Marriage is seen by Hindus as a permanent relationship intended for the execution of spiritual and religious responsibilities, hence particular rituals and ceremonies must be performed. These ideas evolved with the passage of time. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 brought about significant reforms in Hindu law. In Hindu law, this codified legislation explicitly spelled forth the requirements for marriage and divorce. Under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, one of the two basic elements of a legitimate Hindu marriage is a Sapinda relationship and degrees of forbidden ties.

The essential conditions for a valid Hindu Marriage under section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act are:

  1. Monogamous Relationship

  2. Mental capacity to marry

  3. Free consent

  4. Age of parties 

  5. Degree of Prohibited relationship

  6. Sapinda Relationship


Sapinda connections refer to extended family ties that span generations, such as father, grandpa, and so on. Two legal commentary have provided two definitions for the sapinda connection. The Mitakshara created one and the Dayabhaga created the other. Sapinda, according to Mitakshara, refers to a person who is linked by the same body particles, whereas Dayabhaga refers to a person who is linked by the same pinda (ball of rice or funeral cake offered at sraddha ceremony). The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 changed the notion of Mitakshara and made it illegal to marry people who are in a Sapinda relationship. Unless a genuine tradition or usage permits such a marriage or union. According to Section 3 of the Act, the custom must be legal. 

It was held in the case of Harihar Prasad v. Balmiki Prasad that a valid custom must be established by clear and unambiguous evidence; it is only through such evidence that the courts can be assured of their existence, and they must meet the conditions of antiquity and certainty for legal recognition. Sapinda marriages are punishable under Section 18(b) of the Act by simple imprisonment for up to one month, a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or both.

In the line of descent via the mother, the sapinda connection extends to the third generation (included), while in the line of descent through the father, it extends to the fifth generation (inclusive). Sapinda partnerships can last up to three generations in the case of females and five generations in the case of males.


In Hindu marriage, there are some ties that cannot be solemnised; these types of partnerships are known as degrees of forbidden relationships. The major goal of this law is to avoid incestuous marriages, which are weddings between persons who are related in a prohibited way, such as brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, and so on. The parties to a marriage are not within the degrees of banned relationship, according to Section 5(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, unless the custom or usage governing each of them authorises a marriage between the two.

 This condition makes it plain that the couples being married must not be in any degree of banned connection unless the tradition or usage governing them allows it. Only if there is a valid custom will a marriage formed within the degrees of banned connection become lawful and valid. If a marriage falls into one of the forbidden relationship degrees, it is declared void by Section 11 of the Act and is punished by simple imprisonment for up to one month, a fine, or both under Section 18(b) of the same Act. Even if the marriage was void as being within the banned degree, the responsibility to sustain the wife would remain, according to Kamani Devi v. Kameshwar Singh.

According to sectin 3(g) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: the persons under prohibited relationship are:

  1. if one is a lineal ascendant of the other; or 

  2. ii. if one was the wife or the husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other; or

  3.  iii. if one was the wife of the brother or the father’s or mother’s brother or the grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother of the other.

  4.  iv. if two are brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or children of brother and sister or two brothers or two sisters. The relationship also includes: 

a. Relationship by half or uterine blood as well as by full blood. 

b. Illegitimate blood relationship as well as legitimate

c. Relationship by adoption as well as by blood

On the same issue, Jimutavahana's idea was founded on the concept of oblation. The significance of pinda, he claimed, was a sacrifice presented to departed ancestors. As a result, sapindas were persons who gave oblation, or pind-daan, to the same common ancestor. If the bride is the offspring of anybody within five generations (inclusive) on the groom's father's side and three generations on the groom's mother's side, they will be referred to be "Sapindas' of each other. In this situation, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 prohibits this type of marriage between two Hindus.

In conclusion, the meanings of the phrases "prohibited relationship" and "sapinda relationship" are based on the Rau Committee's Report, according to the Objects and Reasons for the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Smritis' far tougher sapinda relationship rules, i.e. seven and five degrees, have subsequently been softened by customs, and the limitations have been maintained at five and three degrees, respectively. A definition of forbidden degrees was required since, due to India's vast variety, there is extensive disagreement over what constitutes a restricted degree. It was vital to establish a clear boundary for the sapinda connection since it had been interpreted differently by many authors and philosophers, causing a great deal of misunderstanding.

Even science has proved that the offspring which comes as a result of such relationship are subject to abnormal qualities which will make them like a child with autism. As a result, despite its complexity, the Sapinda notion is extremely useful and vital for society. The drafters of the Hindu Marriage Act did an excellent job of recognising the need for and incorporating a mechanism to regulate weddings between persons of different degrees.


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