The Hindu Marriage Act is an Act of the Indian Parliament which came into force on 18th May 1955. The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 was introduced to safeguard the legal rights of Hindu brides and bridegrooms who are joined by the union of a wedding. This Act has many facets including guardianship of children, divorce, restitution of conjugal rights, nullity of marriage and adoption after marrying under the Hindu Marriage Act. The type of ceremony and rituals to be followed has not been specified by the Act because there are various methods by which a man and woman can be wed in accordance with the Hindu tradition.

Purpose of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955

The Hindu Marriage Act’s primary goal was to update and codify the existing laws governing marriage between Hindus. The Law had clauses on divorce and judicial separation, both of which are already covered by Sastrik Law (old Hindu Law), in addition to modifying and codifying the Sastrik Law. The law became uniform for all Hindu communities because of its enactment. 

Salient Features of the Act

  1. Forbids bigamy: Section 5 of the Act lays down that it is illegal to have two living wives at once, which is also known as bigamy. 
  2. Marriageable age prescribed: As per Section 5 (iii) of the Act, the groom must be at least 21 years old and the bride must be at least 18 years old during the time of marriage. 
  3. Restitution of conjugal rights: The restitution of conjugal rights is stated in Section 9 of the 1955 Act. Restitution of conjugal rights refers to the right of a couple to cohabitate. The main motive behind Section 9 is that a spouse has the right to live together in order to safeguard their union and preserve its sanctity.
  4. Focus on the mental stability of the parties getting hitched: A person’s marriage will be null and void if they were mentally unfit when they were married.
  5. Providing significance to ceremonies involved in marriage: The Hindu Marriage Act dictates that if two Hindu people get married using the conventional rituals and rights, their marriage is lawful.

Applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 

This Act applies to any person: — 

  1. who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat.
  2. Who follows the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj, 

(c) who is a Sikh, Buddhist or Jain 

(d) living in the states to which the law extends, who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such individual would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by Hindu tradition or its usage.  

Eligibility criterion to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 

A marriage can be solemnized between two Hindus if the following criteria are fulfilled: — 

  1. neither the bride nor groom has a spouse living at the time of the marriage; 
  2. at the time of the marriage, neither the bridge nor the groom:— 

(a) is incapable of giving valid consent due to an unsound mind; 

(b) Has been suffering from mental illness of such a kind or to such an extent as to be deemed as unfit for marriage and the procreation of children though he is able to give consent; or

 (c) Has been subject to repeated attacks of insanity 

(iii) The bridegroom has attained the age of 21 and the bride, the age of 18 at the time of the marriage. 

(iv) The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless a custom of their community that governs each of them allows for such a marriage. 

(v) The parties are not sapindas of each other unless a custom of their community that governs each of them allows for such a marriage.

Marriage Registration under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955

You can register your marriage at the Sub-registrar office in your area. Online apply of your marriage can be done on portal of your state and choose a day for registering your marriage at the registry office. Just needs to carry your documents, wedding card, and 3 other witnesses to complete the registration procedure. 

Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 lays down that the marriage be instantly recorded by the Registrar of Marriage on the same working day in the Hindu Marriage Register. All documents are verified on the date of appointment, and the marriage is then registered by the Registrar of Marriage appointed by the Government of India on the following working day, and a marriage certificate is provided. 

Divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955

The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 was the first ever Hindu law to allow for a divorce. 

Nullity and Voidable Marriages

It was laid down in the Act that some marriages were null and voidable as per Sections 11 and 12 due to the marriages’ failure to satisfy the necessary requirements set forth in the Act to prove the legitimacy of marriage and the presence of the flaws specified in Section 12 respectively.

Judicial Separation

Judicial Separation is the pre-divorce phase and the law states that any one of the parties may petition for judicial separation on valid grounds or reasons detrimental for a divorce. If the Court allows, the judicial separation will be passed and both parties will not be obliged to cohabit under one roof. 


Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 states nine reasons for a divorce. Some of them are adultery, desertion, cruelty, insanity, leprosy, venereal disease, conversion to another religion or rejection of the world. They are referred to as divorce fault grounds. Either the bride or the groom must establish at least one legal reason for divorce in order to receive a divorce decree.

Section 13(B) of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act of 1976 allows divorce by mutual consent. It gives the bride and the groom to file for divorce without having to establish blame any party. A petition for divorce may be presented to the District court by the bride and the groom, on the ground that they have been living separately for one year. The couple has also not been able to cohabitate and they have mutually agreed upon the dissolution of their marriage.