Understanding The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: Why you need to know it as a student?

Summary of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 in India

In light of recent events, the same-sex marriage discussion going on recently let us understand the existing Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. India being a dynamic country, it allows each citizen to be governed under personal laws covering the religious views. This is extended to personal laws relating to marriage and divorce.

As a part of the Hindu Code Bill, the Hindu Marriage Act was enacted by the Parliament in 1955 in order to amend and codify the marriage law among the Hindus.  Other than regulating the institution of marriage, it also regulates other aspects of personal lives of Hindu and applicability of such lives in wider Indian society.

The act provides guidance to the Hindus in order to form a systematic marriage bond. It helps in giving meaning to the marriage by giving it a legal validation. It also gives a sense of safety to the family, bride and groom, and their children so that they don’t suffer parental issues.


The act is applied to all forms of Hinduism and it also recognizes the offshoots of the Hindu religion as mentioned in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution. These also include Jains and Buddhists. The act is also applicable to anyone who is a permanent resident of India and is not Muslim, Christian, Jew or Parsi by religion.

Although the Act originally applied to Sikhs as well, the AnandKarj Marriage Act gives Sikhs their own personal law related to marriage.

Notably,  the Act originally did not apply to citizens in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the effect of the J&K Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 made it applicable.

Read more: Understanding laws for Sexual Harassment in India

Conditions Applied 

Section 5 of The Hindu Marriage Act specifies that conditions must be met for a marriage to be able to take place. If a ceremony takes place, but the conditions are not met, the marriage is either void by default, or voidable.

Void marriages

A marriage may be declared void if it contravenes any of the following:

  1. Either party is underage. The bridegroom should be of 21 years of age and the bride of 18 years.
  2. Either party is not of Hindu religion. Both the bride and groom should be of the Hindu religion at the time of marriage.
  3. Either party is already married. The Act expressively prohibits polygamy. A marriage can only be solemnized if neither party has a living spouse at the time of marriage.
  4. The parties are sapindas or within the degree of prohibited relationship.

Voidable marriages

A marriage may later be voidable (annulled) if it contravenes any of the following:

  1. Either party is impotent, unable to consummate the marriage, or otherwise unfit for the procreation of children.
  2. One party did not willingly consent. In order to consent, both parties must be sound of mind and capable of understanding the implications of marriage. If either party suffers from a mental disorder or recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy, then that may indicate that consent was not (or could not be) given. Likewise, if consent was forced or obtained fraudulently, then the marriage may be voidable.
  3. The bride was pregnant by another man other than the bridegroom at the time of the marriage.


Section 7 of the Hindu marriage act recognizes that there may be different but equally valid ceremonies and customs of the marriage. A Hindu marriage can be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies either of the bride or the groom.

Registration of Marriage

A marriage cannot be registered unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

  1. a ceremony of marriage has been performed; and
  2. the parties have been living together as husband and wife

Additionally, the parties must have been residing within the district of the Marriage Officer for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which the application is made to him for registration.

Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act allows a state government to make rules for the registration of Hindu marriages particular to that state, particularly with respect to recording the particulars of marriage as may be prescribed in the Hindu Marriage Register.

Registration provides written evidence of marriage. As such, the Hindu Marriage Register should be open for inspection at all reasonable times (allowing anyone to obtain proof of marriage) and should be admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Alimonies (permanent maintenance)

At the time of the decree of divorce or at any subsequent time, the court may decide that one party should pay to the other an amount for maintenance and support. This could be a one-off payment or a periodical (such as monthly) payment. The amount to be paid is at the discretion of the court.


Remarriage is possible once a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of divorce and no longer able to be appealed (whether there was no right of appeal in the first place, or whether the time for appealing has expired, or whether an appeal has been presented but dismissed).

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