The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held that simply performing two rites, that of Sindoor and Mangalsutra, does not make a marriage valid.
The division bench of Justices BP Dharmadhikari and Swapna Joshi passed the judgement dated January 31, 2017 after hearing an appeal filed against an order of the Family Court, Nagpur allowing the petition filed by the 36 year old respondent woman seeking restoration of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The respondent had been married to one Rajesh Deshpande and two children with him. Although they got divorced in 2007, they continued to stay together in the interest of their children. In 2011 she met the appellant and they had a love affair. The appellant then “married” the respondent on April 16, 2012 by putting mangalsutra and applying vermillion on her forehead before the idol of Lord Krishna. Physical relations were established between the two since then.
None of the appellant’s family members were aware of this “marriage” happening, however once they learnt of this they refused to acknowledge any such marriage. They got their son engaged to another woman in 2013.
Following this, the respondent got an FIR registered against the appellant under charges of rape and cheating.
Appearing for the appellant, Senior Counsel Anand Jaiswal argued that the respondent had threatened his client that if he did not pay Rs.10 lakh to her, she would lodge a complaint of sexual assault against him. Hence in order to save his proposed marriage, the appellant paid a sum of Rs.2 lakh to the respondent. Thereafter the respondent withdrew her complaint filed before the police.
SG Joshi, the respondent’s lawyer argued that the marriage between his client and the appellant was performed under the Gandharvasystem before the idol of lord Krishna. The marriage was never registered.
Court relied on the respondent’s own views on marriage articulated during cross examination, where she accepted that she had “never seen a marriage where only two rights are performed, ie Sindur and Mangalsutra.”
Justice Swapna Joshi, who authored the judgement observed- “As per provisions of the hindu marriage Act, marriage must be performed as per ceremonies, rites and rituals recognised by either of the parties. Even importance is given to Satpadi in Hindu Marriage. Admittedly, no such ceremonies were performed between the parties.”
Court then observed that even though there was physical relationship between the two parties, they were not in a live-in relationship, hence there was no valid marriage between the two and the family courts order granting restitution of conjugal rights to the respondent was erroneous has been quashed and set aside. The appeal was allowed.
Read the order here.
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