Invalid/Void Hindu Marriage

Void marriages, are invalid from the beginning. These do not require annulment. Under Hindu Marriage Act, Section 11 states certain situations where the marriage is void.  The following are the situations:

  • One of the parties has a spouse living at the time of marriage. For example, if Seema was already married to Rajesh during her marriage with Rahul.
  • If the parties are within the degrees of prohibited relationship. Customs allow spouses to marry within prohibited relationships in some societies.
  • Parties are Sapindas of each other, except in cases where certain customs allow it. A sapinda relationship can be either paternal or maternal.

Hindu Marriages and Mental Illness

Trigger Warning: The following content contains information which some readers may find disturbing.

The law states that people with mental illnesses usually do not have the capacity to enter into valid legal marriages. Mental illness means a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that severely impairs judgement, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or to meet the ordinary demands of life, and mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.1

A person planning on getting married should be able to give valid consent. If you are not able to give consent because of:

  • Unsoundness of mind or;
  • Because of a mental disorder which makes you ‘unfit for marriage and the procreation of children’ or;
  • If you get ‘recurrent attacks of insanity’, your marriage will not be valid.

While the provision of the law may not cover all kinds of mental illnesses, there are no proper guidelines on what kind of illnesses or the degrees of illness make you unsuitable for marriage.

  1. Section 2(s), Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.[]

Prohibited Relationships under Hindu Marriage Law

If the spouses are within the degrees of prohibited relationship, then their marriage will not be a valid marriage. The following are the kinds of prohibited marriages:

  • If one spouse is a lineal ascendant of the other. A lineal ascendant includes a father, mother, grandfather and grandmother, but also great grandfather and great grandmother and so on.
  • If one spouse is the wife or husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other. A lineal descendant will include not only children and grandchildren but also great grandchildren and their children as well.
  • If the two spouses are brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or first cousins.
  • If one spouse is the
    • Ex spouse or widow(er) of your sibling or
    • Ex spouse or widow(er) of your father’s or mother’s sibling or
    • Ex spouse or widow(er) of your grandfather’s or grandmother’s sibling.

In some cases, despite a relationship being prohibited by law, a person’s custom might still permit a marriage with another person. In this case, they can get married because their custom allows them to do so

Invalid/Void Hindu Marriage

Void marriages are invalid from the beginning. These do not require annulment. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, Section 11 states certain situations where the marriage is void.  The following are the situations:

  • One of the parties has a spouse living at the time of marriage. For example, if Seema was already married to Rajesh during her marriage with Rahul.
  • If the parties are within the degrees of prohibited relationship. Customs allow spouses to marry within prohibited relationships in some societies.
  • Parties are Sapindas of each other, except in cases where certain customs allow it. A sapinda relationship can be either paternal or maternal.

Voidable Marriage under Hindu Marriage Law

A Hindu marriage becomes voidable in the following situations:

  • One of the spouses is impotent.
  • If the conditions for marriage have not been fulfilled. Before 1978, a guardian had to give consent on behalf of the child getting married. The reason this practice was not followed after 1978 is due to the implementation of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978.
  • At the time of marriage, the woman was pregnant by some person other than the spouse.
  • In cases where the consent was obtained by fraud or force.

If one of these conditions are fulfilled, you can go to Court to annul your marriage.

Sapindas and Hindu Marriage

Sapinda relationships are prohibited under Hindu marriage law.  A sapinda is someone who is:

  • within or has a common ancestor relative within three generations above you on your mother’s side of the family
  • within or has a common ancestor relative within five generations above you on your father’s side of the family.

A sapinda can be someone from your father’s side or mother’s side hence, you are not eligible for a hindu marriage if you marry someone who is a Sapinda.

However, in some cases, despite a sapinda relationship being prohibited by law, a person’s custom might still permit a marriage with another person. In this case, they can get married because their custom allows them to do so.

Jail time up to one month or a fine up to Rs. 1000 or both is the punishment but there are exceptions.