Under the Hindu Marriage Act, what remedies are available to married couples who are covered under the said Act?
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides for three main remedies. These are – divorce, judicial separation and restitution of conjugal rights. It lays down the grounds, conditions and procedures to seek these remedies. Apart from these, the HMA also states the conditions for marriage, ceremonies to be performed, registration of marriage, maintenance in divorce, provision for remarriage, etc.
What is restitution of conjugal rights?
Section 9 of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides the law related to restitution of conjugal rights. According to this, when either the husband or the wife, without any reasonable explanation or cause, withdraws from the other person’s life or society, the aggrieved party can apply, by petition to the district court for restitution of such conjugal rights (rights to stay together) and if the court is satisfied and is of the opinion, would grant a decree for restitution of conjugal rights. However, the burden of proving that withdrawing from the other’s society was for a valid reason / excuse, shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society.
What is judicial separation?
Under Section 10 of the Act, either party to a marriage can present a petition praying for a decree of judicial separation based upon any ground(s) given in Section 13(1) (grounds for Divorce for both parties), and in case of a wife, also upon the grounds given in Section 13(2)(grounds for divorce by woman).
Whenever a decree for judicial separation has been passed, there is no obligation for the petitioner to live / cohabit with the respondent. However, if either or both the parties want to make an attempt to resolve their dispute, an application can be filed in the court by either party and if the court deems fit, it may rescind the decree.
What is the minimum legal age of the bride and the bride-groom to get married?
According to law, the minimum age for the bride to be legally ready for marriage is 18, and for the bride-groom, this age is 21.
What is the remedy available to a woman who was married off before she turned 18?
Under Hindu Marriage Act, if a girl was / has been married off before she had turned 15 years old, she can annul / reject / repudiate the marriage before turning 18 years of age. This step can be taken only after she has turned 15 but before the age of 18. However, there is no express provision to prohibit child marriage per se.
Is is mandatory to get a marriage registered under Hindu laws?
It is not compulsory to get Hindu marriages registered, i.e. the validity of the marriage is not affected by the omission to make an entry in the Register However, registration gives proof of marriage for all legal purposes. Under Section 8, the State Government has the power to make rules for the registration of Hindu marriages for that particular state, and it can also make the providing of particulars relating to their marriage compulsory in the Hindu Marriage Register, which, if not adhered to or followed would result in a fine. The Hindu Marriage Register, according to the HMA should be open for inspection at all reasonable times, allowing anyone to obtain a proof of marriage. The register will also be admissible as evidence in a court of law.
What is bigamy? What options are open to a woman whose husband commits bigamy?
Bigamy is when either the husband or the wife marries again during the lifetime of his/her wife or husband, respectively. It is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, punishable with imprisonment and fine. A bigamous marriage is a void relationship.
If a woman has evidence that she is married to a man who is getting married again or has married another person, she should approach the police. In the case she learns that her husband is about to get married again, she can even seek an injunction from the court forbidding him to marry again. And in case the marriage has taken place, a wife can seek the court to “declare” that the 2nd marriage is null and void and bigamous in nature. However, in such scenarios, the complainant has to prove the validity of the first marriage and that the 2nd marriage is bigamous.
In case a Hindu wishes to marry a person who is not of the same religion (i.e. other than Hindu), under what law can they do so?
If both the man and woman want to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act, it will be compulsory for both to be of Hindu religion. Even if there is a non-Hindu involved, he / she will have to first convert to Hinduism. However, the easiest way out when there is a non-Hindu party involved is to get married under the Special Marriage Act. A civil marriage under this Act facilitates marriage between any two people, including people belonging to different religious communities. A marriage under this Act in such cases is much simpler as several complications are avoided that are required to be fulfilled under various religion-based personal laws. It also saves the parties from conversion.
What are the rights of a child who is born to persons whose marriage is declared void or voidable under the Hindu Marriage Act?
If a marriage is null and void under Section 11, any child of such a marriage who would have been legitimitate in case the marriage had been valid, would be legitimate, whether or not a decree of nullity has been granted or the marriage has been declared void.
Similarly, in cases where a decree of nullity has been granted against a voidable marriage under Section 12, any child that was begotten or conceived before the decree has been passed (who would have been the legitimate child of the parties to the marriage if at the date of the decree – it would have been dissolved instead of being annulled) would be their legitimate child. This legitimacy of the child would stand, regardless of the decree of nullity.
Section 16 of the Act lays down the law regarding the legitimacy of children of void and voidable marriages.
When can a person re-marry after acquiring divorce?
Under the HMA, remarriage of either party is allowed after divorce, only after the previous marriage has been completely dissolved by a decree of divorce (by the court) and either there is no right of appeal left, or the time for filing of an appeal has expired, or an appeal if presented has been dismissed.
Can one seek maintenance or alimony in a divorce case proceeding?
Hindu Marriage Act allows either party to seek maintenance if the Court deems fit. It provides for two kinds of maintenance – ‘maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings’, and ‘permanent alimony and maintenance’.
Section 24 holds that during any proceeding under the Hindu Marriage Act, if the appropriate Court is of the opinion that either the husband or wife does not have any independent income which is enough for that party’s support and the expenses of the proceeding, the Court can order the other party to pay the expenses. For this, the Court gives regard to the income of both the parties. The Court takes action under this section after the alleged needy party presents an application in the Court regarding it. This is ‘maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings’.
Section 25 deals with ‘permanent alimony and maintenance’. At any time during or after the decree of divorce, the Court has the power under this Section to order that either party should pay to the other, monetary support or amount for maintenance. This amount is also decided by the Court. It can be a one-time lump sum payment, or a periodical one (for eg. each month).