NULLITY OF MARRIAGE

Explain the provisions of section- 11 and section- 12 of Hindu Marriage Act,1955.
Or
Discuss the concept of nullity of marriage under Hindu Marriage Act,1955.
Or
Discuss the kinds of impediments to a marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

In every society, marriage is a social institution which allows a man and a woman to live together as husband and wife under a same roof to perform matrimonial obligations and matrimonial intercourse. It allows them to procreate a child and help the society in continuation by adding a unit into it. It provides legitimacy to a child. But this is done only in case of a valid marriage and to solemnize a valid marriage the parties to marriage have to fulfil the conditions which have been prescribed by section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

If the parties do not fulfil the conditions which have been prescribed by section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and solemnize a marriage in contravention of legal provisions of section 5, the marriage will either be void marriage or a voidable marriage.

  

Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides two kinds of impediments to a marriage:-
• Absolute
• Relative

If an absolute impediment exists, then marriage will be considered void marriage and if relative impediment exists, then marriage will be considered voidable marriage.
Section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with the provisions of Void marriages and Section 12 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with the provisions of voidable marriages.

According to section 11, if any party to marriage has living spouse at the time of marriage or if parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship or if parties are spindas to each other, then their marriage will be considered void marriage. Void marriage does not arise any matrimonial rights and obligations.

A void marriage is no marriage. It is void ab initio i.e. does not exist from its very beginning. But it is called a “Marriage” because even if parties lack capacity to marry, they have undergone the ceremonies of marriage. There is no need to get decree of nullity of marriage because void marriage does not confer the status of husband and wife upon the parties but parties sought the decree just to avoid subsequent complications.

  

Whereas section 12 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states that if any party is unable to consummate the marriage on account of his/her impotency or if any party is unable to give valid and or suffering from mental disorder or if consent of any party has been obtained by fraud or force or if any party conceals the pre- marriage pregnancy then the marriage will be considered voidable marriage and another party to marriage has right to get the marriage dissolved by taking the decree of nullity of marriage.

A voidable marriage is a perfectly valid marriage so long as it is not avoided. It remains valid and binding and continues to subsist for all purposes unless a decree annuls it. Once a voidable marriage is annulled the decree is given retrospective effect from the date of the marriage and the marriage is deemed to have been void for all purposes from its inception and parties are deemed to have never been husband and wife.

It is clear that if the marriage is void marriage or if the marriage is voidable marriage and has been declared annulled then the marriage does not confer upon them the status of husband and wife and it does not arise any matrimonial rights and obligation.

Now, the question arises, “Whether female spouse can claim maintenance from the male spouse after getting the decree of nullity?”

In a leading case of Rameshchandra Rampratapji Daga vs Rameshwari Rameshchandra Daga(AIR 2005 SC 422), the Apex Court held that “ under section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the word “any decree” includes the decree of nullity given under section 11 and 12. Therefore, at the time of passing the decree of nullity, the court can grant maintenance to the female spouse.”

Hence, it is clear that the female spouse after getting the decree of nullity of marriage can get the maintenance under section 24 and 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

  

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