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Home / Latest News / Supreme Court:No limitation period to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage under Special Marriage Act.Read Judgment.

Supreme Court:No limitation period to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage under Special Marriage Act.Read Judgment.

March 08,2019:

On Wednesday, the Bench of Justices Navin Sinha and M.R.Shah of the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that no period of limitation is prescribed to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act and as once the marriage is void the same is a nullity and at any time the same can be declared as nullity being a void marriage.

Justice M. R. Shah & Justice Navin Sinha
Justice M. R. Shah & Justice Navin Sinha

The appellant herein married with respondent–husband on 05.04.2010 &their marriage was an inter-caste marriage. According to the appellant-wife the respondent-husband was having a living spouse and that he has suppressed the fact of the first marriage from her and  married her without obtaining the decree of divorce from the competent court & therefore, the appellant-wife filed petition under Section 25 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, for declaration of marriage as null and void which was dismissed by the trial court and the Bombay High Court.

According to the appellant, the respondent obtained her consent for marriage by fraud as the the respondent, at the time of registration of marriage, in the document of marriage has declared himself as bachelor though the respondent’s first marriage was subsisting and therefore according to the appellant, she is entitled for declaration of nullity of marriage.According to the respondent-husband, prior to his marriage with the applicant, they were having a love affair and at the time of their marriage on 05.04.2010, the applicant was in knowledge of his first marriage and despite the same she married with him,though at the time of marriage, as such, he was not at all willing to marry to the applicant, however, because of the pressure of the applicant and her threat to commit suicide he was compelled to marry the applicant & that there was a customary divorce between the respondent and his first wife, which was prior to the solemnization of the marriage between the applicant and the respondent and therefore it was prayed to dismiss the petition.

Shri Navare, learned Advocate  of appelant has vehemently submitted that, in the present case, both the learned trial court as well as the High Court have not at all considered Section 24 of the Act. Relying upon Section 24 of the Act, it is vehemently submitted by Shri Navare that, at the time of marriage between the appellant and the respondent, the first marriage of the respondent with his first wife was subsisting and
therefore the marriage between the appellant and respondent was a nullity/void marriage. It is submitted that, in the present case, neither
the district court nor the High Court had considered Section 24 of the Act and only considered Section 25 of the Act.

Shri Jain, learned Senior advocate appearing on behalf of the respondent-husband submits that, in the facts and circumstances of the case, both the learned trial court as well as the High Court have rightly dismissed the marriage petition and have rightly refused to grant the relief of declaration of nullity of marriage between the appellant and the respondent, considering Section 25 of the Act and by observing that the marriage petition was barred by period of limitation, as provided under Section 25 of the Act.

The Supreme Court bench observed, “… considering Section 24 read with Section 4 of the Act, if at the time of marriage either of the party has spouse living, then the said marriage is a void marriage and a decree of nullity can be passed on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party.

No period of limitation is prescribed so far as presentation of petition for declaration to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Act and rightly so, as once the marriage is void the same is a nullity and at any time the same can be declared as nullity being a void marriage.

Therefore, both the trial court as well as the High Court have committed an error in observing that the marriage petition was barred by limitation. While holding so,both the trial court as well as the High Court had considered first proviso to Section 25 of the Act. In the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that Section 25 of the Act shall not be applicable and Section 24 of the Act would be applicable which does not provide for any period of limitation like first proviso to Section 25 of the Act.

The learned trial court as well as the High Court have committed a grave error in observing that there was a customary divorce between the respondent-husband and his first wife. There must be a specific issue framed by the Court on the aforesaid and the same is required to be established and proved by leading evidence. In the present case, neither an issue has been framed nor even the respondent husband has led any evidence and proved that there was a customary divorce between respondent and his first wife.

Even the respondent-husband was required to prove that such a customary divorce was permissible in their caste/community.In the absence of any such issue or any evidence, the Courts below were not justified in observing that there was a customary divorce between the respondent and his first wife. Therefore, in absence of the above,  considering Section 24 read with Section 4 of the Act, the marriage between the appellant and respondent was void and the appellant was entitled to a decree of nullity at her instance. Therefore, both the Courts below have materially erred in rejecting the marriage petition.

For the reasons stated above, the bench is of the opinion that the appellant is entitled to a decree of nullity of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent and the present appeal succeeds.

Read Judgment @ LatestLaws.com

Download Judgment

SWAPNANJALI SANDEEP PATIL Vs SANDEEP ANANDA PATIL06 March,2019(Downloadable pdf)

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