Divorce can be sought by husband or wife on certain grounds, including: continuous period of desertion for two or more years, conversion to a religion other than Hindu, mental abnormality, venereal disease, and leprosy. Newly married couples cannot file a petition for divorce within one year of marriage.
This Act may be called the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir 1 , and applies also to Hindus domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are outside the said territories.
Application of Act.
This Act applies
(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,
(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion, and
(c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.
Explanation. The following persons are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion, as the case may be:
(a) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion;
(b) any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion and who is brought up as a member of the tribe, community, group or family to which such parent belongs or belonged; and
(c) any person who is a convert or re-convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh religion.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the members of any Scheduled Tribe within the meaning of clause (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution unless the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, otherwise directs.
(3) The expression Hindu in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is, nevertheless, a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section. State Amendment Pondicherry: In section 2, insert the following sub-section: (2A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the Renoncants of the Union territory of Pondicherry
Conditions for a Hindu marriage. A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:
(i) neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage;
2 [(ii) at the time of the marriage, neither party
(a) is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind; or
(b) though capable of giving a valid consent, has been suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfit for marriage and the procreation of children; or
(c) has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity 3 [***];]
(iii) the bridegroom has completed the age of 4 [twenty-one years] and the bride, the age of 5 [eighteen years] at the time of the marriage;
(iv) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two;
(v) the parties are not sapindas of each other, unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two;
Ceremonies for a Hindu marriage.
(1) A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto.
(2) Where such rites and ceremonies include the saptpadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken. State Amendments Section 7A Pondicherry: After section 7, insert the following section, namely:
(a) by each party to the marriage declaring in any language understood by the parties that each takes the other to be his wife or, as the case may be, her husband; or
(b) by each party to the marriage garlanding the other or putting a ring upon any finger of the other; or
(c) by the tying of the thali.
Restitution of conjugal rights.
When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly. 8 [ Explanation. Where a question arises whether there has been reasonable excuse for withdrawal from the society, the burden of proving reasonable excuse shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society.
Judicial separation .
(1) Either party to a marriage, whether solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act, may present a petition praying for a decree for judicial separation on any of the grounds specified in sub-section (1) of section 13, and in the case of a wife also on any of the grounds specified in sub-section (2) thereof, as grounds on which a petition for divorce might have been presented.]
(2) Where a decree for judicial separation has been passed, it shall no longer be obligatory for the petitioner to cohabit with the respondent, but the court may, on the application by petition of either party and on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition, rescind the decree if it considers it just and reasonable to do so.
Any marriage solemnised after the commencement of this Act shall be null and void and may, on a petition presented by either party thereto 11 [against the other party], be so declared by a decree of nullity if it contravenes any one of the conditions specified in clauses
(i) , (iv) and (v) of section 5.
Voidable marriages .
(1) Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable and may be annulled by a decree of nullity on any of the following grounds, namely:
12 [(a) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the impotence of the respondent; or]
(b) that the marriage is in contravention of the condition specified in clause (ii) of section 5; or
(c) that the consent of the petitioner, or where the consent of the guardian in marriage of the petitioner 13 [was required under section 5 as it stood immediately before the commencement of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978 (2 of 1978)*], the consent of such guardian was obtained by force 14 [or by fraud as to the nature of the ceremony or as to any material fact or circumstance concerning the respondent]; or
(d) that the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some person other than the petitioner.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no petition for annulling a marriage
(a) on the ground specified in clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall be entertained if
(i) the petition is presented more than one year after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered; or
(ii) the petitioner has, with his or her full consent, lived with the other party to the marriage as husband or wife after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered;
(b) on the ground specified in clause (d) of sub-section (1) shall be entertained unless the court is satisfied
(i) that the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts alleged;
(ii) that proceedings have been instituted in the case of a marriage solemnised before the commencement of this Act within one year of such commencement and in the case of marriages solemnised after such commencement within one year from the date of the marriage; and
(iii) that marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has not taken place since the discovery by the petitioner of the existence of 15 [the said ground].
(1) Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party
(i) has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse; or]
(ia) has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or]
(ib) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or]
(ii) has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion; or
(iii) has been incurably of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Explanation .In this clause,
(a) the expression mental disorder means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia;
(b) the expression psychopathic disorder means a persistent disorder or disability of mind (whether or not including sub-normality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the other party, and whether or not it requires or is susceptible to medical treatment; or]
(iv) has 18 [***] been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy; or
(v) has 18 [***] been suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form; or
(vi) has renounced the world by entering any religious order; or
(vi) has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years or more by those persons who would naturally have heard of it, had that party been alive; 19 [***] 20 [ Explanation. In this sub-section, the expression desertion means the desertion of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party, and includes the wilful neglect of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage, and its grammatical variations and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly.] 21 [***]
(1A) Either party to a marriage, whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act, may also present a petition for the dissolution of the marriage by a decree of divorce on the ground
(i) that there has been no resumption of cohabitation as between the parties to the marriage for a period of 22 [one year] or upwards after the passing of a decree for judicial separation in a proceeding to which they were parties; or
(ii) that there has been no restitution of conjugal rights as between the parties to the marriage for a period of 22 [one year] or upwards after the passing of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights in a proceeding to which they were parties.]
(2) A wife may also present a petition for the dissolution of her marriage by a decree of divorce on the ground,
(i) in the case of any marriage solemnised before the commencement of this Act, that the husband had married again before such commencement or that any other wife of the husband married before such commencement was alive at the time of the solemnisation of the marriage of the petitioner: Provided that in either case the other wife is alive at the time of the presentation of the petition; or
(ii) that the husband has, since the solemnisation of the marriage, been guilty of rape, sodomy or 23 [bestiality; or]
(iii) that in a suit under section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (78 of 1956), or in a proceeding under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) [or under the corresponding section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898)], a decree or order, as the case may be, has been passed against the husband awarding maintenance to the wife notwithstanding that she was living apart and that since the passing of such decree or order, cohabitation between the parties has not been resumed for one year or upwards; or
(iv) that her marriage (whether consummated or not) was solemnised before she attained the age of fifteen years and she has repudiated the marriage after attaining that age but before attaining the age of eighteen years.]
Divorce by mutual consent.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act a petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce may be presented to the district court by both the parties to a marriage together, whether such marriage was solemnised before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976)*, on the ground that they have been living separately for a period of one year or more, that they have not been able to live together and that they have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved.
(2) On the motion of both the parties made not earlier than six months after the date of the presentation of the petition referred to in sub-section (1) and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is not withdrawn in the meantime, the court shall, on being satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, that a marriage has been solemnised and that the averments in the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree.]