Marriage is considered to be a sacred institution in India. The Indian society believes in solemnizing marriage through rituals and customs. People are normally skeptical and uncomfortable going through the legal procedure for bringing marriage into existence. Most of them are not even aware of the provisions of marriage laws mentioned in detail in the Indian constitution.

India is mainly a Hindu-dominated country. Therefore, Hindu marriages are mainly governed by ‘The Hindu Marriage Act,’ that was incorporated on May 18, 1955. For other different religions, the constitution contains different kinds of Marriage Acts.

Salient Features of the Hindu Marriage Act

Some of the salient features of the Hindu Marriage Act are given below.

  • It is compulsory to register every Hindu marriage even if it is solemnized through proper rituals. However, the act does not lay down any specific type of ceremony or ritual to formalize a marriage.
  • The act lays down the domain within which an association can be formed. Marriage between people destined to have platonic relationship like mother and son, father and daughter, brother and sister is unacceptable.
  • The provisions of the Act are applicable to anyone who is Hindu by birth or a convert. It is also applicable to Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs as well as to people who are not governed by any other law. However, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Parsis do not fall within the framework of this act.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act is enforceable throughout the country except in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Both the girl and the boy should be major. The boy should be of 21 years of age and the girl should be of 18 years of age. They both should be mentally sound and capable of handling the marriage. Both should be Hindu by origin or through conversion.
  • The provision prohibits bigamy or polygamy. It is treated as an offence and is punishable under the Indian Penal code. Therefore, at the time of marriage, none of the partners should already have a spouse staying with them. In case of a second marriage, the concerned partner has to first seek a divorce from the spouse and then re-marry.
  • The legalities of divorce are also governed by the law. A person can seek divorce on any valid ground like physical abuse by the partner or his family, infidelity, mental ill-health, etc. Aspects like alimony, child custody, etc. also lies within this act.