Supreme Court of India Rules Hindu Marriage Invalid Without Proper Ceremony

The Supreme Court rules that Hindu marriages must follow traditional rites to be valid, emphasizing the sacred nature of the institution and cautioning against trivializing it as a commercial transaction.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Supreme Court of India Rules Hindu Marriage Invalid Without Proper Ceremony

Supreme Court of India Rules Hindu Marriage Invalid Without Proper Ceremony

The Supreme Court of India has ruled that a Hindu marriage must be performed with traditional rites and ceremonies, such as 'saptapadi' (seven steps around the sacred fire), for it to be considered valid under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. The court emphasized that a Hindu marriage is a sacred and sacramental institution, not merely a gathering for entertainment or commercial transaction.

In a case involving a dispute between a petitioner-wife and respondent-husband, both trained commercial pilots, the court declared their purported marriage on July 7, 2021 null and void. The couple had obtained a marriage certificate without conducting the requisite ceremonies outlined in Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The court stressed that the mere registration of a marriage under Section 8 of the Act does not confer legal validity if the essential rites are not performed. "Unless the parties have gone through the ceremonies, there would be no valid marriage under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, and a mere issuance of a certificate by an entity in the absence of the requisite ceremonies would not confer any marital status to the parties or establish a marriage under Hindu law," the court stated.

Why this matters: The Supreme Court's ruling highlights the importance of adhering to the legal requirements for solemnizing Hindu marriages and cautions against trivializing the institution of marriage as a mere commercial transaction. The decision reaffirms the sacred and sacramental nature of Hindu marriage in Indian society.

The court urged young men and women to deeply consider the sanctity of marriage before entering into it, emphasizing that it is a solemn, lifelong, and dignity-affirming union. The bench, led by Justice B.V. Nagarathna, criticized the growing practice of couples getting their marriages registered for practical purposes, such as applying for visas, without actually solemnizing the marriage according to Hindu customs. The court quashed all related legal proceedings in the case, including the divorce petition, maintenance case, and criminal case, as the marriage itself was deemed invalid.

Key Takeaways

  • Hindu marriages must follow traditional rites to be valid under law.
  • Mere registration does not confer legal validity if rites are not performed.
  • Court declared a couple's marriage null and void for lack of ceremonies.
  • Ruling reaffirms the sacred, sacramental nature of Hindu marriage.
  • Court criticized the practice of registering marriages without solemnization.