Under Old Hindu Law
There are only three essential conditions for a valid marriage as per the old Hindu Law:-
- Identity of caste between the parties
Marriage under the Hindu Law is considered to be illegal if the bride and the bridegroom does not belong to the same caste. During the British rule various legislative provisions were enacted which validated inter-caste marriages.
- The parties to marriage must be beyond the prohibited degrees of relationship
No person could marry any girl who comes within his sapinda relationship. The Hindu jurists prohibited marriage between persons who are related to each other within a certain degree due to physiological and social reasons. A marriage between persons who are in close relationship with each other is invalid unless it is sanctioned by customs.
The bride and the groom should not be Sapinda to each other, as the marriage is considered as illegal. “Sapinda” are the persons who have the same ancestors.
- Proper performance of marital ceremonies are required to be done
As per Dharmashastra, three religious ceremonies are necessary for the completion of a Hindu marriage, which are:-
- Tilak ceremony or Betrothal
- Recitation of holy text books before the sacred fire
- Saptapadi (Taking seven steps round the sacred fire)
Marriage is incomplete and can be revoked before the Saptapadi is finally performed.
Under Hindu Marriage Act of 1955
As per the Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, following conditions needs to be fulfilled to validate a marriage among two Hindus:-
Section 5 (1) of the Act lays the rule of monogamy and prohibits polyandry and polygamy. Before the act of 1955 came in effect, a Hindu male could have more than one wife, irrespective of the fact that his previous wife was alive at the time of this subsequent marriage.
Now the act provides for a condition that both the parties to the marriage must not have their spouse living at the time of their marriage. In case of a breach of the given condition, the defaulting party would be liable to punishment under Section 494 and Section 495 of the Indian Penal Code and also be liable under Section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
- Soundness of mind
Section 5 (2) of the Act lays the rule that none of the parties to the marriage-
- Is of unsound mind and is unable to give a valid consent; or
- Is of sound mind but is suffering from mental disorder to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage; or
- Is subject to recurrent attacks of epilepsy or insanity.
- Age of marriage
Section 5 (3) of the Act provides the legal age for the marriage of a person. It say that at the time of marriage the bridegroom must have attained the age of 21 years and the bride has attained the age of 18 years. The failure to comply with this condition would constitute the marriage as void.
- Beyond prohibited degree
As per Section 5 (4) of the Act, if both the parties to the marriage are within the prohibited degrees of relationship, then the marriage would be prohibited. Two persons would be regarded as to be within prohibited degrees-
- If one is lineal ascendant of the other
- If one was the husband or wife of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other
- If one was the wife of the brother or of the father’s or mother’s brother or of the grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother of the other
- If both are uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, brother and sister; or children of brother and sister or of two sisters or two brothers.
- Beyond Sapinda relationship
As per Section 5 (5) of the Act, marriage between persons who are Sapinda to each other is invalid unless it is sanctioned by usage or customs governing both the parties.
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