This article on ‘An Annulment of Marriage under Hindu Law‘ was written by Shudhi Malhotra, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Marriage is inescapably the cornerstone of the social structure as well as the source of significant legal rights and duties. Marriage is considered a Samskara, or sacrament, in Hindu law. Hindu marriage unites two people for life so they can work toward dharma (obligation), artha (possessions), kama (physical wants), and moksa (ultimate spiritual release) together. Two families are also united by it. Usually, red and gold are the predominant colors. A promise to remain together and support traditional family values by Dharma.
There is no place for the government in the original Hindu marriage system because it was always a personal matter between two people. But divorce is a complicated issue, and annulment is an extremely unusual solution. An annulment is typically more a product of religion today than of the law. Rarely are annulments given, and when they are, there must be very particular conditions.
What is the Annulment of marriage?
An annulment only relates to declaring a voidable marriage null; if the marriage is void ab initio, it is already null, however a judicial declaration of nullity is necessary to show this. An annulment is a legal process used to declare a marriage void. It is rarely permitted, except for bigamy and not being at least the legal marriageable age. If certain legal conditions were not satisfied at the time of the marriage, the marriage may be deemed null and void. Marriage is regarded as having never existed in the perspective of the law if certain formalities were not followed. This procedure is known as an annulment.
A marriage that is annulled never existed in the first place, which makes it significantly different from divorce in this regard. Because it is retroactive, unlike divorce, an annulled marriage is regarded as never having existed.
Conditions for Annulment of a marriage
According to the various legal regimes, the reasons for annulling a marriage may vary, although they are typically only deception, bigamy, blood relationship, and mental incompetence, comprising the following:
- Either spouse was already a married person at the time of the contested marriage.
- Either partner was too young to marry, or they were too young to marry without a judge’s or a parent’s approval. (In some circumstances, a marriage like this is still legal if it endures long after the younger partner reaches marriageable age.
- Either partner was using drugs or alcohol at the time of the wedding.
- Either partner lacked mental capacity at the time of marriage.
- If deception or coercion was taken advantage of to get the agreement to the marriage.
- Either partner at the time of the marriage was physically unable to engage in sexual activity, which is frequently the case.
- In the relationship between the parties, marriage is forbidden by law. The party’s blood relationship, or “prohibited degree of consanguinity,” is this. The legality of a relationship between first and second cousins varies around the world; the most typical legal relationship is between them.
- Marriage is prohibited for those who have been given a life sentence.
The Cause of an annulment
For any marriage between two Hindus that can be solemnized in conformity with the provisions of this Act, some qualifications for a Hindu marriage are outlined in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. These conditions must be met.
Section 5 condition for a Hindu Marriage
Any two Hindus may get married if the following requirements are met, specifically:
- Neither spouse of the parties was a resident at the time of the marriage.
- Neither party, at the time of the marriage;
- Has a mental condition that prevents them from giving legitimate consent.
- even though they can provide their consent, have a mental illness that renders them unfit for marriage and childbearing.
- suffers from epilepsy or has experienced recurring mania.
- At the time of the wedding, the bridegroom had reached the age of twenty-one and the bride, eighteen.
- The parties are not in a banned relationship unless their respective customs or usage allow for a marriage between them.
- Unless the custom or usage overseeing each of them allows marriage between the two, the parties are not sapindas of one another.
When a wedding is automatically declared void by the law due to public policy concerns or is voidable by one party because specific important components of the marriage contract were missing at the time of the marriage, an annulment may be granted.
Who can seek an annulment?
The following parties are eligible to petition the relevant court for the annulment of a marriage:
- If the petitioner grants any consent for more than a year following the other person’s deception.
- If the husband is unaware that the woman is expecting a child from a different relationship at the time of the marriage.
The Consequences of an annulment
A marriage annulment erases everything from the records and makes it appear as though it never existed. A marriage annulment results in a ruling that the union did not exist. The marriage is annulled, restoring the partners to their pre-marriage status. It’s a common misconception that brief marriages can be dissolved, but this is untrue—marriage length is not a criterion. There is no need to decide who gets custody of any children born from the marriage because annulments frequently happen even after very brief marriages. The court will divide the couple’s assets if a long-term marriage is declared invalid.
Procedure to annul the marriage
To void a marriage, the procedures listed below must be followed:
- Identify the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit must be brought, such as the location of the marriage ceremony, the last place the couple resided as husband and wife, the residence of the estranged wife, or, in the event of the petitioner’s death or an unknown location, the petitioner’s residence.
- Engage legal counsel, and give them the information and materials they need to prepare the petition.
- File the petition and pay the necessary court fee.
- Receive the ruling following the court’s thorough review of the evidence.
Rights of children (if any) after the annulment
After the marriage was dissolved, the children born out of wedlock were regarded as legitimate. As with children, they are entitled to inherit and demand the division of just their parents’ property. When it comes to inherited property, these children are eligible to claim their portion of the assets that belong to the parents.
There are two methods to end a marriage legally: divorce and annulment. In a marriage, it can be started by either the wife or the husband. A marriage that is void from the beginning does not affect the status of spouses and does not grant them any rights or obligations that would typically follow from a legitimate marriage, except those rights that are specifically recognized by the Act. If a court does not issue an annulment order on any of the grounds listed in Section 12 for a voidable marriage, the union is nevertheless legitimate, binding, and continues to exist for all purposes.
An annulment is a legal process that dissolves a man’s and a woman’s marriage. An annulment proclaims that a marriage never actually existed and was never valid, making it appear as though it has been fully erased. In the scheme of matrimonial laws, an annulment of marriage is crucial since there is no purpose in bearing the obligation of divorce in situations where the wedding was consummated using fraud or even when the responding spouse was already married.
- Varsha, Annulment of Marriage, BnB Legal, 11 August 2021, available at: https://bnblegal.com/article/annulment-of-marriage-a-marriage-that-never-existed/
- Nullity of Marriage in India, Vakil Search, 5 December 2022, available at: https://vakilsearch.com/blog/nullity-of-marriage-in-india/
- Kiruthika, Annulment of Marriage under Hindu Law, Legal services India, available at: www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1700/Annulment-of-Marriage-under-Hindu-Law.html