Section: 12 Voidable marriages
(1) Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable and may be annulled by a decree of nullity on any of the following grounds, namely:—
(a) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the impotence of the respondent; or
(b) that the marriage is in contravention of the condition specified in clause (ii) of Section 5; or
(c) that the consent of the petitioner, or where the consent of the guardian in marriage of the petitioner was required under Section 5 as it stood immediately before the commencement of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978 (2 of 1978)] the consent of such guardian was obtained by force or by fraud as to the nature of the ceremony or as to any material fact or circumstance concerning the respondent; or
(d) that the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some person other than the petitioner.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no petition for annulling a marriage—
(a) on the ground specified in clause (c) of sub-section (1), shall be entertained if—
(i) the petition presented more than one year after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered; or
(ii) the petitioner has, with his or her full consent, lived with the other party to the marriage as husband or wife after the force had ceased to operate or, as the case may be, the fraud had been discovered;
(b) on the ground specified in clause (d) of sub-section (1) shall be entertained unless the court is satisfied—
(i) that the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts alleged;
(ii) that proceedings have been instituted in the case of a marriage solemnized before the commencement of this Act within one year of such commencement and in the case of marriages solemnized after such commencement within one year from the date of the marriage; and
(iii) that marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has not taken place since the discovery by the petitioner of the existence of the said ground.
Comments on Section 12 Hindu Marriage Act 1955
Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, lays down the conditions for a valid marriage between two Hindus. It is an important provision as it ensures that the marriage is entered into voluntarily and without any coercion or fraud.
The section begins by stating that a marriage may be null and void if either party is incapable of giving valid consent due to unsoundness of mind, or is suffering from mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to live with the person. This provision ensures that both parties have the capacity to understand and give valid consent to the marriage.
Further, the section also lays down that a marriage may be voidable if it is solemnized under force or fraud. This means that if one of the parties is forced into the marriage against their will, or if the marriage is solemnized by fraudulent means, then the marriage can be declared voidable. This provision is important in protecting the right to choose one’s life partner freely and without any undue pressure.
Section 12 also provides that a marriage may be declared void if either party is already married at the time of the marriage, or if the parties are within the prohibited degrees of relationship. This provision ensures that marriages are not entered into illegally and without consideration for social norms and ethics.
It is important to note that Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, is in line with the constitutional right to equality and freedom of choice in matters of personal life. The section ensures that both parties have the capacity to understand and give valid consent to the marriage, and that the marriage is entered into without any coercion or fraud.
In recent times, there have been calls for the amendment of Section 12 to include provisions for protection against marital rape and other forms of marital abuse. These calls have been made in the context of ensuring that the Hindu Marriage Act is in line with modern principles of human rights and gender equality.
In conclusion, Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, is an important provision that ensures that marriages between Hindus are entered into voluntarily and without any coercion or fraud. It reflects the principles of equality and freedom of choice in matters of personal life, and should be upheld and strengthened to ensure that Hindu marriages are conducted in a fair and just manner.