INTRODUCTION – Hindu Marriage
Marriage, according to Hindu Law, is a holy sanskar (sacrament) and not a contract, unlike Muslim Law. The maximum “conjunction martinet seminar est de nature” means that to keep husband and wife together is the law of nature and the maximum “viral unor consent in lege una persona” means that husband and wife are considered one in law. Kanyadan (formal donation of the bride by her father) and saptpadi (circumambulation of holy fire by the bride and the groom) have basic importance in Hindu marriages.
Eight forms of marriage were described, four of which were dharmya (regular) forms and the rest were adharmya (irregular) forms. The choice of life partner was limited only to one’s own dharma (religion) and jati (caste) only. Polygamy was permitted in hindu society but not polyandry. Widow remarriage was also not permitted. Legislation of laws relating to Hindu marriage began in the year 1829 when sati was abolished by law and declared an offense at the instance of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
In 1856 the HINDU WIDOWS’ Remarriage Act legalized the marriage of Hindu widows. In 1860 Indian Penal Code prohibited polygamy. In 1886 Native Converts Marriage Dissolution Act facilitated divorce for Hindus accepting the Christian faith. In 1872 Special Marriage Act was passed but it excluded Hindus.
In 1869 the Indian Divorce Act was passed but this too remained inapplicable to Hindus. In 1894 a penal law, enforced in the State of Mysore, prescribed punishment for men marrying girls below the age of eight years and for men above the age of fifty, marrying girls below fourteen years.
In 1909 the Anand Marriage Act legalized the marriage ceremony common among the Sikhs called Anand. In 1923 by an amendment to Special Marriage Act inter-religious civil marriages between Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains were legalized. In 1929 Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed.
In 1937 Arya Marriage Validation Act recognized the legality of inter-caste marriages and marriages with converts into Hinduism among the followers of Arya Samaj. In 1946 Hindu Marriage Disability Removal Act legalized intermarriage between the sub-divisions of the same caste and those within one’s gotra and bravura. In 1946 Hindu Married Women’s Right to Separate Residence and Maintainance Act was passed. In 1949 Hindu Marriages Validity Act legalized inter-religious marriages.
In 1947 the Hindu Code as drafted by Rau Committee was introduced in the Legislative Assembly and was referred to the Select Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India on 9th April 1948. The select committee submitted its report on 29th August 1948 and the revised draft Bill based on the report of the select committee was discussed at considerable length by the Provisional Parliament and it lapsed. The earlier Bill was considerably revised and the HINDU MARRIAGE BILL was introduced in the Parliament.
STATEMENT OF OBJECT AND REASONS
The Hindu Code as drafted by the Rau Committee was introduced in the Legislative Assembly in 1947 and was referred to a Select Committee of the Constituent Assembly of INDIA (Legislative) on 9th April 1948. The Select Committee submitted its report on the 29th of August 1948 and their revised draft was discussed at considerable length by the Provisional Parliament, but as the Bill could not be passed before the dissolution of that Parliament it now stands lapsed.
2. As stated earlier by Government, the code is now being split up into separate parts for the purpose of facilitating discussion and passage in Parliament, and the present bill is the first of a series of such parts and deals with marriage and divorce. The earlier bill has now been considerably revised, one significant change being the omission of all provisions relating to civil marriages, a subject dealt with in the Special Marriage bill now pending before the Council of States (see the special marriage act 43 of 1954).
ACT 25 OF 1955
The Hindu Marriage Bill having been passed by both Houses of Parliament received the assent of the PRESIDENT on 18th May 1955. It came on the Statue Book as THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955 (25 of 1955) (Came into force on 18-05-1955).