Validity of a Marriage Performed without Observing any Ceremonies under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

The contention was rejected and it was held that the customary ceremonies cannot be altered except by legislation such as the Special Marriage Act. The alteration cannot be made by a society or association of recent date. So it was held that the marriage was void.

In Ram Saran v. Mahabir Seivak, AIR 1934 PC 74, there was a Katar Marriage (i.e. Marriage to a sword). The bridegroom who was Kshatriya sent his sword and the marriage was performed with the sword. It was held that such a marriage was not valid.

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Lord Thankerton rejected the claims of the issues of the marriage to succession to their father’s Zamindari on the ground that they were illegitimate issue. This decision of the Privy Council emphasises the need for strictly observing the religious ceremonies to create the marital tie.

There may of course be a custom which dispenses with the need for observing the traditional religious ceremonies. Thus, In re Ponuswami, AIR 1950 Mad. 777, Chandra Reddy, J., held that the tying of a tali in the presence of an idol in the temple was a form of customary marriage and that even without any priests to officiate at the ceremony. There was thereby a complete marriage. The learned judge accordingly upheld a conviction for bigamy when the second marriage was thus celebrated.

In Dr. N.A. Mukerji v. State, AIR 1969 All. 489, a physician was prosecuted for bigamy by W1. She alleged that she married him thrice, firstly before the moon, secondly in Kali Temple by exchange of garland after taking seven steps and thirdly as an imitation of sikh marriage before Guru Granth Sahib.

It was held that such mock ceremonies will not constitute a valid marriage. Hence, the prosecution for bigamy has failed in the absence of proof the marriage based upon valid ceremonies.

It would be thus seen that there is no valid marriage when the parties have not observed any religious ceremonies at all. When some ceremonies are observed the question whether they are sufficient, depend upon their conformity with the Panigrahanika ceremonial ending with Saptapadi or with the ceremonies prescribed by the customary law applicable to either the bride or the bridegroom.

Under s. 7 (2) non performance of any incidental ceremony in the marriage would not vitiate the validity of the marriage once the performance of saptapadi is proved. G.Lakshmi v. Garikapte Subba Rao, 1989 (1) ALT 503. So far as Tamil Nadu is concerned there is a specific Amendment. See Note 7.1. Supra.

It may be noted, however, that there is always a presumption of marriage under s. 114 of the Indian Evidence Act if there is a continued cohabitation between the parties unless contrary is proved. Performance of marriage cannot be proved by mere au thorisation letter for payment of the salary in which the alleged wife had mentioned the deceased as husband Mrs. Sudershan v. State, AIR 1988 Delhi 368.

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