The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, enacted on 18th May 1955, is a crucial codified law that governs Hindu marriages, applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. This article delves into Section 5 of The Hindu Marriage Act, providing a comprehensive understanding of the conditions essential for a Hindu marriage. Additionally, it explores landmark judgments interpreting this section and the underlying objectives.
SECTION 5 OF THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955
Section 5 of The Hindu Marriage Act,1955, located in Chapter II, outlines five conditions imperative for solemnizing a Hindu marriage. Despite the discretionary nature of the provision, non-compliance can render a marriage void or voidable under Sections 11 and 12. Clauses (iii), (iv), and (v) violations may result in penalties under Section 18.
OBJECTIVE AND REASONS BEHIND THE PROVISION
- No Living Spouse:-The first condition aims to eradicate bigamy, aligning with societal values and the Indian Penal Code’s stance on bigamy. The Act, in concordance with Section 494 and 495, emphasizes the non-existence of bigamy.
- Mental Health for Consent:–The second condition ensures both parties possess sound mental health for valid consent. Unsoundness, mental disorders, or frequent insanity attacks are grounds for voidable marriages under Section 12, recognizing the seriousness of such issues.
- Legal Age:-The third condition mandates a legal age of eighteen and twenty-one for brides and grooms, respectively. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 supplements this condition, combating the deeply rooted practice of child marriage.
- Degrees of Prohibited Relationship:– Condition four prohibits marriages between parties connected by ancestors or family relationships. Custom can override this, adhering to established practices.
- Sapinda Relationship:- Condition five prohibits marriages between sapindas, defined in Section 3(f). Similar to condition four, custom plays a role in determining the validity of marriages within sapinda relationships.
THE ROLE OF CONSENT UNDER SECTION 5 OF THE ACT, 1955
The debate on whether Hindu marriage is a contract or sacrament highlights the significance of consent. While Section 5 establishes conditions, Sections 11 and 12 address void and voidable marriages. Consent is evident in the second and third conditions, emphasizing age and mental stability. However, loopholes exist, such as the ambiguity in applying conditions, raising questions about the legislation’s effectiveness in preserving consent.
CONSENT AND THE LAW OF CONTRACT
Contrary to contract law principles where consent is fundamental, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not explicitly prioritize consent. The legislation’s language, especially in the second condition, introduces ambiguity, potentially allowing marriages without valid consent. Negligence in addressing age requirements further undermines the significance of consent.
Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, plays a crucial role in regulating Hindu marriages, reflecting a balance between customs and societal needs. Despite its merits, the legislation exhibits shortcomings, particularly in safeguarding consent. Amendments addressing these gaps are imperative to ensure the Act’s continued relevance and effectiveness in governing Hindu marriages.