Marriage under Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act

Parsi is defined under sec. 2(7) of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936:-

A ‘parsi’ means a ‘Parsi Zoroastrian’.

Any person following the Zoroastrian faith need not necessarily be a Parsi. It is more of a racial connotation and has nothing to do with religious profession. The word takes its derivation from ‘pers’ or ‘fars’, a province in Persia, from which the original Persian emigrants came to India. In  Dinshaw M. Petit (Sir) v. Jamshedji Jijibhai, 11 Bom LR 85 court held that:-

“The parsi community consist of Parsis who are descendant from the original Persian emigrants, and who are born of Zoroastrian parents, and who profess the Zoroastrain religion, the Iranians from Persia professing Zoroastrian religion who came to India either temporarily or permanently, and the children of parsi fathers by alien mothers who have been duly and properly admitted into the religion”.

In Jamshed Irani v. Banu Iarni, 1967 Mah LJ 33  it was stated that “The term ‘Parsi’ in the Act means ‘Zoroastrains, both of India and Iran“.  Parsis arrived in India in 717 AD. They entered into an agreement with the Hindu ruler of Sanjan. By the agreement, they initially settled to respect the cow and observe many customs of the Hindus. With preserving their own religion, they adopted local customs as well. From their arrival in India up to 1865 the Parsis had no recognized laws to govern their social relations. Their laws in India largely rested on traditions and compilations by their learned men (Deenshah v. Pestonji, 2 Bom. 393). The need for separate law came in the year 1856, when the SC decided that it do not have jurisiction to entertain a suit filed by Parsi wife for restitution on conjugal rights (Ardasser Cursetji v. Perozeboye, 6 M.I.A. 348).

The Parsis thereupon made repeated representations to the Government, as a consequence whereof a Commission was appointed by the Bombay Government to enquire into usage recognized by Parsis in India, and into the necessity of special legislation in connection with them. A large body of the leading Parsis formed themselves into the Parsi Law Association, and on the 15th February, 1862 a numerously attended deputation from the Managing Committee of the association presented the draft of a “Supplemental Code of Betrothment, Marriage and Divorce” to the said Commission. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1865 was enacted on April 7, 1865. To meet the need of changing times, the Parsi Central Association appointed a sub-committee in 1923 and it suggested certain amendments. As a result the Act of 1936 was passed on 23 April, 1936 and came in force on June 22, 1936.Further, it was amended in 1988. The law was passed on 25 March and came into force on 15 April, 1988.


Section 3 of this act defines:- Requisites to validity of Parsi marriages.—

[(1) ] No marriage shall be valid if—(a) the contracting parties are related to each other in any of the degrees of consanguinity or affinity set forth in Schedule I; or

(b) such marriage is not solemnized according to the Parsi form of ceremony called “Ashirvad” by a priest in the presence of two Parsi witnesses other than such priest; or

[(c) in the case of any Parsi (whether such Parsi has changed his or her religion or domicile or not) who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age, and if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age];

 [(2) Notwithstanding that a marriage is invalid under any of the provisions of sub-section (1), any child of such marriage who would have been legitimate if the marriage had been valid, shall be legitimate.]

(1) Degrees of prohibited relationship:

Like all other personal laws, parsi law also prohibit or discourages marriages between certain relations through consanguinity and affinity. The table of prohibited degrees of relationship is given in Schedule I. These relations are through father, mother, son, daughter, wife or husband, sister and brother

(2) Performance of ‘Ashirwad’ Ceremony:

The word ‘Ashirvad’ literally means ‘Blessing’. It relates to the invocation of the Divinity to bless the marital tie. It is performed by the priest of Parsi religion. Section 2(8) provides for two classes of Parsi priest – Dastur and Mobed. ‘Ashirvad’ may be performed by any of them. There is also requirement of two Parsi witnesses beside the priest. In Maneka Gandhi v. Indira Gandhi, AIR 1984 Del. 428 it was held that Marriage between Feroze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi was celebrated by Vedic rites. It was therefore, not a Parsi marriage. According to section 6, the officiating Priest is obligated to certify the marriage in the form which is given Schedule II of the Act.

(3) Age of Marriage:

Inserted by the amendment Act of 1988. The male must have completed the age of 21 years and, eighteen years of age at the time of marriage. This condition of marriage will govern the Parsis even if they change their religion or domicile.Now, the marriage of a Parsi who have not completed the required age could not be a valid one if the consent of his or her father or guardian was obtained as it was in the Act of 1965.

Sub Section 2- Child of an invalid marriage:

Inserted by the amendment Act of 1988. Even if a marriage is void being in violation of conditions given in sec 3(1) of the Act, the child born to such an invalid marriage is as legitimate as if he were born of a valid marriage. The provision is both prospective and retrospective. Unlike the Hindu law and the Special Marriage Act, the Parsi Act does not restrict the inheritance rights of children of invalid marriage to parents only.

Aishwarya Says:

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