Legal Article

Mental disorder

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article

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Published on: 21 Aug, 2023


The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 is a legal framework that governs the conditions and procedures for marriage among Hindus in India. One of the key aspects of this act is the stipulation of conditions under which a marriage can be considered null and void or can be annulled. Mental disorder is one such condition.

Mental Disorder as a Ground for Annulment

According to Section 5(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, at the time of the marriage, neither party should be “incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind.” Furthermore, Section 13(1)(iii) states that a marriage can be annulled if the spouse is “incurably of unsound mind.”

Criteria for “Unsound Mind”

The term “unsound mind” is not explicitly defined in the Act, and its interpretation is generally left to the courts. However, the condition should be such that it renders the spouse incapable of performing the marital duties and responsibilities. The mental disorder should be of such a kind and extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.

  1. Medical Evidence: Medical evidence is crucial in proving the mental disorder. This usually involves psychiatric evaluations and testimonies from qualified medical practitioners.
  2. Legal Petition: A petition for annulment or divorce needs to be filed in a family court, stating the mental disorder as the ground for seeking the annulment or divorce.
  3. Court Proceedings: Both parties will be required to present their case in court, and the court will make a judgment based on the evidence and testimonies presented.
  4. Legal Representation: It is advisable to consult a lawyer who specializes in family law to navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Ethical Considerations

It’s important to approach this sensitive issue with care and understanding. Mental disorders are medical conditions that require treatment and support, not stigmatization. The decision to annul a marriage based on mental disorder should be the last resort, after all avenues for treatment and reconciliation have been explored.

Conclusion

Mental disorder is recognized as a ground for annulment or divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. However, proving the condition in court requires substantial medical and legal evidence. It’s crucial to consult legal and medical professionals for a comprehensive understanding of the situation.