Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Consent of bride inherent to Hindu marital law: SC

Details :

The news:

  • The Supreme Court declared that consent of a bride to marriage is an inherent part of the Hindu marital law.


News summary:

Background of case:

  • A writ petition filed before apex court by a woman, who alleged that she was married off against her will.
  • She highlighted the plight of women who are married forcefully against their wishes.
  • The woman has also sought striking down of certain provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act on the grounds that the consent of the bride or the groom has not been made mandatory in the law.
  • She sought that the apex court should give a declaration that the bride’s consent was part of a valid marriage.


Court observation:

  • On Hindu Marriage Act:
    • The SC bench said that it would treat this petition as a habeas corpus plea and would not deal with the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Act.
    • Court said the Hindu Marriage Act inherently held a forceful marriage or a fraudulent one held without the woman’s voluntary consent as invalid.
    • So the court refused a plea to judicially declare that a Hindu marriage entered into without the bride’s voluntary consent or after playing fraud on her is invalid.
  • Civil action:
    • Court held that any woman subjected to a forceful or fraudulent marriage was at liberty to initiate civil action in the appropriate court.
  • Nullifying a marriage – Reference to Hadiya case:
    • Court also pointed that it was only recently, in the Hadiya case judgment, that the Supreme Court castigated the Kerala High Court for nullifying a marriage in an Article 32 petition.
    • Now, the Supreme Court cannot be expected to nullify a marriage in a writ petition.
  • Up to civil court:
    • The court said it was up to a civil court to look into the facts of the case and take a decision on whether to nullify the marital bond or not.

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