Legal Advice

Parents right on choosing life partner for their children

Question: In one family, parents gave their whole life to improve the life of children. But after getting a job children defied all the advice of parents and married a girl according to his choice. Parents are losing a right to choose a life partner for their children. Can parents don't have any say in fixing the marriage of  their boy?

Advise

Marriage is considered as a sacramental union for the Hindus. The Hindus have refined the institution of marriage by making detailed rules and ceremonies of all aspects of marriage. Marriage is one of the sixteen “Samskaras” prevailing in “Griha Sutras”. But by the passage of time its core nature has been changing. The Hindu Marriage Act has made the Hindu marriage a civil contract. 

According to section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) consent of parents is not necessary for the marriage. Advent of information & technology along with globalisation has caused a drastic impact on the orientation of young Hindu. Inter-caste marriage is very common today and adherence to the old principles is thought to be a sign of backwardness.  

Does parents have the right choose life partner for their child

So far as the legal framework is concerned, parents cannot compel their children to marry with a person of their choice. Every adult person has a right to choose his life partner. The Supreme Court of India has declared it as a fundamental right in a leading case. Article 21 of the Constitution of India gives protection of life and personal liberty. Right to choose a life partner is the integral part of that right. 

The parents still have the right to choose a life partner for their loving child. But it is not an absolute right. If the child objects or wants to marry to another girl or boy, parents cannot forcefully persuade to change his/her mind. Using “force” or “binding” the children to marry as per parent’s choice is illegal now.

Concept of marriage as “flesh with flesh and bones with a bone” has changed

Now the Hindu marriage is not purely sacramental. The provisions of Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) have introduced some elements of contract in Hindu marriage. Divorce is so easy nowadays that couples can end their nuptial knot within a year of marriage. In Tikait vs Basant, the Calcutta High Court has held that Hindu marriage was secramental and indissoluble union. The opinion of the High Court describes the nature of marriage before the enactment of HMA. 

When the core concept of Hindu marriage has waned then how can the  parents claim that they have the sole right to choose the life partner for their child? They cannot claim so but they can exercise this right with the implied consent of the child. Now the parents have limited rights. They cannot approach the court or take legal recourse if the child does not agree with the parents choice. 

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow