Annulment of Marriage
An annulment, in simpler terms, is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage. Unlike divorce, annulling a marriage is retroactive, i.e. it completely erases the existence of any marriage, and establishes that the marriage was never valid, to begin with. There are various annulment requirements that need to be met in order to complete the marriage annulment process in India. These requirements also include the marriage annulment time frame within which a marriage can be nullified. Therefore, one needs to consult the best divorce lawyers in order to understand the technicalities and processes involved in an annulment process.
Before we jump onto the process of annulment of marriage, we need to understand what constitutes a valid marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Requirements of a Valid Marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act:
The procedure for annulment of marriage in India can be completed after meeting certain specific legal conditions to nullify a marriage. In India, Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, establishes the grounds for a valid marriage which requires the fulfillment of the following three conditions:
i. Either of the parties should not have a spouse living at the time of the marriage;
ii. Further, at the time of the marriage, the individuals:
a. Should not be incapable of giving a valid consent to the marriage in consequence of owing to unsoundness of mind; or
b. Though capable of giving 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.
iii. The bridegroom should have completed the age of twenty-one years and the bride, the age of 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.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines a void marriage as “one not good for any legal purpose, the invalidity of which may be maintained in any proceeding between any parties…Such marriage is invalid from its inception, and parties thereto may simply separate without the benefit of a court order of divorce or annulment.” A “void marriage” is void ab initio.”
Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, discusses void marriages and states that:
“Any marriage solemnized 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.”
The non-fulfilment of any one of the three conditions as per the Section 11 renders such a marriage null and void. However, any party can obtain a decree of nullity of marriage from the Court, if they wish.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines a voidable marriage as “a voidable marriage is valid and not ipso facto void, until a sentence of nullity is obtained.” Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, outlines the grounds available for obtaining the decree of nullity of a voidable marriage.
The grounds for obtaining a decree of nullity of a voidable marriage are:
i. Any marriage shall be voidable and may be annulled by a decree of nullity on any of the following grounds, namely:
(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 was obtained by force 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.”
ii. 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].
However, it is substantial to note that a petition for nullify of marriage in India on the ground of consent by force or fraud shall be entertained if the petition is presented after a year or more following the time the force ceased to operate or the fraud has been discovered. Therefore, where the consent for the marriage is obtained by fraud, one needs to file the petition for annulment of marriage within one year from the time when the fraud is discovered by the defrauded party. Moreover, no petition shall be entertained by the Court(s), in case the parties continued to live with each other party as husband or wife, even after the force ceased to operate or the fraud was discovered.
Furthermore, to establish the ground relating to the pregnancy of one’s wife with someone else’s child during the solemnization of the marriage, the court is to be satisfied that this fact was unknown to the husband at the time of marriage. Besides, any petition on this particular ground has to be filed within one year from the date of the marriage. Also, in case of a petition on this ground, marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner should not have taken place ever since the discovery of the fact that the other party was pregnant by some other person.
Divorce Lawyers in Chandigarh is renowned for genuine legal assistance for all matrimonial matters. Our experienced team can be contacted for the lawyers for marriage annulment to counteract the wrongdoing or cheat that has been done to the petitioner.