India is a secular country in which citizens have the constitutional right to practice and propagate any religion they wish. In India, there are a variety of religious personal rules that govern marriage. Marriage is a sacred covenant that binds two individuals together for their entire lives. Marriage was originally viewed as a social institution to prevent men from engaging in unlimited polygamy and to establish paternity for their children. The state has made rules to control every element of human life over the years, and marriage is no exception. Marriages in India are governed by the personal laws of the religion practised by the parties to the marriage. The Special Marriage Act of 1954 and the Foreign Marriage Act of 1969, respectively, govern inter-religious and inter-national weddings. As a result, we have laws that govern the necessary elements for lawful marriage, grounds for divorce, spouse and child support, adoption, guardianship, inheritance, succession, and so on. In addition, we have some secular laws dealing with matrimonial matters, such as Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Sections 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the Family Courts Act of 1984, and the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.
Marriage Laws in India
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955– Under this act, the persons getting married shall be unmarried and must not have a living spouse at the time of marriage. No marriage under this act can take place through coercion or fraud and parties must give free consent for the marriage. Both the bride and groom shall be competent to marriage and shall have attained the age of majority. They shall not be sapindas of each other, if such marriage takes place it is void.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954– The special marriage laws apply to all Indian citizens, regardless of religion, caste, or culture. People of a different religion, caste, or group are allowed to marry under the provisions of this act. Registration of marriage is necessary for the solemnization of marriage under this Act. The parties shall be of sound mind and they must have attained the age of majority. The parties must not share common ancestors or shall not be blood relatives if they wish to marry under this act.
- The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872– According to this Act, the wedding is solemnized in the presence of priests, clergymen, or ministers at a church and according to the Indian Christians defined regulations. The parties must attain the age of majority and give their consent voluntarily under no compulsion. Both the parties shall be sane and should not have any existing partner from any other former marriage. A registrar of marriage, who has the authorization and power to register a marriage and issue a marriage certificate in India, is obliged to perform the marriage in the presence of at least two trusted witnesses and before a registrar of marriage.
Legal Benefits of Marriage
- Right to inheritance– A wife is entitled to an equal share of her husband’s property like other entitled heirs. If there are no sharers or heirs, the wife has the sole right over the entire property. In the case of inter-religious marriage, the wife is entitled to inheritance as per the personal laws of the husband’s religion.
- Right to Streedhan– Streedhan refers to all of the presents given to a lady before her marriage, at the wedding ceremony, and during the birth of her child. Even after separating from her husband, a woman retains ownership of all her streedhan under this rule. It comprises everything moveable and immovable property, as well as gifts and money. The concept of financial stability lies at the heart of this right. This right, however, is solely available to Hindu women. In addition, section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 protects a Hindu woman’s entitlement to streedhan.
- Restitution of Conjugal Rights– Marriage grants the right to a conjugal relationship, and denying it is cruel, particularly when the parties are young and healthy. Restitution of Conjugal Rights is a matrimonial remedy provided under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 22 of the Special Marriage Act of 1954 for those forsaken by their spouse.
- Right to Maintenance– She also has a legal right to be sustained from her husband’s earnings. The court may deny her support from her husband’s income if the wife is earning similarly well or is well qualified to earn. Courts use the able-bodied person test to establish whether or not a man requesting maintenance from his wife is capable of earning a living.
- Right to live with Dignity and Respect- Every Indian daughter-in-law, irrespective of religion, has the right to live a dignified and respectful life. Every Indian married woman, according to this, has the right to live in the same manner as her husband and in-laws. Her right to be free of mental and bodily suffering is always protected.
- Right to Matrimonial Home– Women have a legal right to live in the matrimonial home with their husbands. A wife has the legal right to remain in the matrimonial house in any condition, including after her husband passes away. If there is a divorce, the woman may choose to stay in her marriage house until she can find a suitable place to reside. She has the legal right to remain in that house if she so desires.
- Right to protect Privileged Communications– During a marriage, communications between spouses are protected from disclosure. It is vital to maintain full confidentiality between a husband and a wife who share the most personal relationship, spousal privilege is protected by section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. This safeguards all communications made during the marriage’s existence, and the privilege continues even after the dissolution of marriage, but only for communications made during the existence of marriage.
The various marriage laws that apply to Indians are an obvious result of the unique and diversified social environment in which we live. This complicated mechanism frequently confuses laymen and leads to major legal issues. Marriage must be recognized as lawful and valid in the eyes of the law. Most marriage laws require marriage registration so that the status of the husband and wife can be established and they can seek legal rights and remedies from the courts. The diversity of marriage laws is frequently viewed as a problem since it makes compliance difficult, among other things.