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What are the requirements of a valid marriage in India?

Written by:
Apeksha Pandita
Published on
27-Aug-19

What is the meaning of 'valid marriage' in various personal laws and the respective legislations?

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 

Following people can register their marriage under this act :

  • Any person who is Hindu by Religion in any of its form.

  • Any person who is Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion.

  • Any person domiciled in India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir and not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.

  • Members of any Scheduled Tribe notified in the Official Gazette by the Central Government for this purpose.

 

Conditions of Valid Marriage under this Act :

  • Monogamy - neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage.

  • The parties to the marriage should not be suffering with unsoundness of mind, mental disorder, and insanity so that he or she is incapable of giving valid consent and procreation of children.

  • The bridegroom has completed the age of eighteen years and the bride the age of fifteen years at the time of the marriage.

  • 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.

  • The parties are not sapindas of each other unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits of a marriage between the two.

valid marriage under hindu law

Muslim Personal Law for Marriage

Conditions which must be fulfilled in a valid Muslim Marriage :

  • Competence or capacity of the parties:-

  • Attained the age of puberty.

  • Both are of sound mind.

  • Marriage between two Muslims

Free Consent of the Parties :

  • The parties to the marriage are sane and adult. If any party is minor or insane then the consent of his or her guardian must be taken. Their consent must not take under Compulsion, fraud or mistake of fact.

Formalities and Ceremonies of the Marriage :

  • Offer (Ijab) by the Man and Acceptance (Qabool) by the Woman.

  • The offer and acceptance may be in oral or writing.

  • The words of the contract must be clear and unambiguous.

  • The offer and acceptance must be reciprocal and simultaneous to each other. The marriage must be made in the presence of two competent witnesses. A marriage without a witness is not valid under Shia law.

Absence of Prohibition and Impediment :

  • A marriage contracted in violation of any of the absolute prohibition is null and void. Two persons are said to be within ‘prohibited relationship’ if they are related to each other by consanguinity, affinity and fosterage. 

valid marriage in islam

Marriage of Parsis under The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

Valid conditions under this Law :

  • The contracting parties are not related to each other in any of the degrees of consanguinity or affinity.

  • Marriage must be solemnized according to the Parsi form of a ceremony called “Ashirvad” by a priest in the presence of two Parsi witnesses other than such a priest.

  • A male has completed twenty-one years of age, and female has completed eighteen years of age.

Marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954

Conditions related to Solemnization of Special Marriage :

  • Neither party to the marriage should have a spouse living.

  • Neither party should be suffering from unsoundness of mind, mental disorder and Insanity so that he or she is incapable of giving valid consent.

  • The male has completed the age of twenty-one years and female the age of eighteen years.

  • The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship.

What are the matrimonial variations for the top 5 religions of India?

Religion

Applicable Law

Nature of Marriage

Requirement of Witness

Prohibited Relations

Age of Marriage

Ceremony

Hinduism

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Sacrament

No

Sapinda, lineal ascent and affinity

Man- 21, woman-18

Local and Customary, Saptapadi (if necessary)

Muslim

Muslim Personal Law

Contract

Two competent witnesses

Consanguinity, affinity and fosterage

Age of Puberty

Proper Offer and Acceptance with Dower

Parsi

The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

Contract

Two witnesses along with the Priest

Consanguinity and affinity

Man- 21, woman-18

Ashirwad ceremony by a Priest

Secular

Special Marriage Act, 1954

Not based on any religion.

Three witnesses along with Marriage Officer

Prohibited degrees of relationship under respective religions of the parties.

Man- 21, woman-18

Registration of Marriage

Buddhism

Hindu Marriage Act

Sacrament

No witnesses

Sapinda, lineal ascent and affinity

Man- 21, woman-18

Customary and Local

 

requirements for a valid marriage

What are state-wise variations if any?

There are some variations regarding ceremonies for a Hindu Marriage. 

  • Special Provision of Suyamariyathi and Seeerthiruththa marriage in Pondicherry.

  • Special Provision of Suyamariyathi and Seeerthiruththa marriage in Tamil Nadu.

What are the repercussions of an invalid marriage?

  • Repercussion of Invalid Marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 :

  1. The marriage does not alter the status of the parties.

  2. It does not create rights and obligations between the parties.

  3. The position of a wife is equal to that of a concubine. 

  4. The children born out of void marriage are illegitimate unless legitimized by law under Section 16 of this Act.

  5. The party has no right to the restitution of conjugal rights and Maintenance.

  6. If one of the party marries again then he or she is not guilty of bigamy.

invalid marriage license

Repercussion of Invalid Marriage under the Muslim Personal Law :

  1. It has no legal effect irrespective of whether consummation has taken place or not.

  2. No rights or obligations like in case of a valid marriage are created between the parties.

  3. The wife is not entitled to maintenance and to live with her husband. However, if the marriage had been consummated, she is entitled to dower.

  4. The parties cannot inherit from one another.

  5. Offsprings are illegitimate. 

  6. The parties can separate from each other at any time without divorce and may contract another marriage lawfully. 

  • Repercussion of Invalid Marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 :

  1. Invalid marriages are against the law and not enforceable by law.

  2. Nullity of marriage is a declaration that there was no marriage in existence and parties are not husband and wife. 

  3. The court decides the maintenance which is to be given to the opposite party either monthly or yearly or lump sum amount.

  4. Children born out of this marriage are deemed to be legitimate.

  5. Both parties are free to marry others.

  6. There will be no status of marriage between two persons.

invalid marriage in islam

Further Read: How To Get Married With A Foreigner?

  • Repercussion of Invalid Marriage the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 :

  1. The marriage does not alter the status of the parties.

  2. Any child of such marriage will be legitimate as if the marriage had been valid.

  3. The parties can separate from each other at any time without divorce and may contract another marriage lawfully. 

  4. No rights or obligations like in case of a valid marriage are created between the parties.

  5. The party has no right to the restitution of conjugal rights and Maintenance.

Is there a way to validate invalid/ voidable marriages?

  • Validation of Hindu Marriage :

  1. A marriage becomes invalid if does not fulfill the required conditions maintained in the Act. But, it can be validated if the conditions which have been ignored, are fulfilled. Void marriage cannot be validated under Hindu Law. Those marriages which are voidable in Nature can only be validated.

  2. If there is any fraud involved in the marriage then the petition before the Court must be presented within one year of acknowledging the fraud otherwise the marriage becomes valid.

  3. If the petitioner with his or her full consent lived with the other party to the marriage as husband or wife even after acknowledging the fraud or forced consent to the marriage.

  4. The marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has taken place even since the discovery of the voidable grounds.

  • Validation of a Voidable Muslim Marriage :

  1. An Invalid Marriage under Muslim Personal Law can be validated if the irregularity in marriage is removed.

  2. If there is irregularity (Fasid) in marriage due to unlawful conjunction then the man can lawfully marry his wife’s sister after the death or divorce of the wife. 

  3. Marriage with the fifth wife will be become valid (Sahih) after the death or divorce of any of the four wives.  

  4. Marriage with a woman during iddat becomes valid after the expiry of the specified period.

valid marriage certificate in india

What are the appropriate forums that decide on the validity of marriages? Do the Khaps and Panchayats have the authority?

Appropriate Forum for Hindu Marriage to decide validity :

  • The District Court is the appropriate forum for deciding the validity of a marriage.

Appropriate Forum for Marriage under Muslim Personal Law :

  • The District Court is the appropriate forum for deciding the validity of a marriage.

Appropriate Forum for Marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1955 :

  • The District Court within the limits of whose original jurisdiction the marriage was solemnized.

Authority of Khap and Panchayats :

  • There is no legal authority of Khap and Panchayats over the marriage between two adults. Any attempt by Khap Panchayats or any other assembly to scuttle or prevent two consenting adults from marrying is absolutely “illegal”.

  • The Supreme Court in “Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and Others SC 231 (2010)” stated clearly that the marriage is between two adults and it is their choice. You cannot take the law into your own hands. Khaps had no business in such matters.

  • When two consenting adults agree to enter into matrimony no individual, group or collective rights shall interfere to harass the couple.

invalid marriage

What are the common misconceptions regarding a valid marriage in India?

Conversion or change of religion by either the husband or the wife :

  • According to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, conversion or change of religion by either the husband or the wife is a valid ground for seeking a divorce. This ground is available only to the non-converting spouse.

Solemnizing Second Marriage after embracing Islam :

  • The Supreme Court in “Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India AIR 1995 SC 1531” declared the second marriage done under Islam void. It will be considered as, which is prohibited under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Marriage of Minors :

  • The solemnization of the marriage of minors is neither void nor voidable, the only consequence being that the persons concerned are liable for punishment under Section 18 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. 

Option of Puberty :

  • A minor on attaining the age of puberty has a right to approve or disapprove the marriage contracted by a guardian who was neither father nor paternal grandfather. This right is not compulsory. According to Shia law, unless the minor on attaining majority expressly ratifies the marriage, it is no marriage at all in the eyes of law.

requirements for a valid customary marriage

Can a forced marriage be valid? 

  • Forced Marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 :

  1. Marriages done by the force is voidable under Section 12 of the Act if the party whose consent was taken by force chooses to do so.

  2. This type of marriage can be validated if there is no petition presented more than one year after the force had ceased to operate or the force had been discovered.

  3. If 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 then the marriage will become valid.

  4. If there is marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has taken place after the discovery by the petitioner of the existence of fraud then the marriage will be valid.

  • Forced Marriage Muslim Personal Law :

  1. When the consent for marriage is obtained by the application of force, under threats, coercion or any other compulsion, it is not free and it cannot be said that such a person has intended to what he or she has consented, it is considered as void marriage and it cannot be validated. 

  2. The Hanafi Law School of Muslim validates the marriage even if the consent of parties or their guardian has been obtained under any compulsion.