What is a Void Marriage?

Last Updated at: Oct 30, 2020
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In a recent judgement, the Bombay High Court cancelled the validity of a registration certificate issued for a marriage performed without rituals.  In this case, a resident from Thane earlier moved HC after the district family court had declared the marriage as invalid.


A void marriage is one that is invalid from the very beginning. Such a marriage, regardless of the beliefs of the couple, has never existed and does not even need to be terminated, as it has never existed. This is different from a voidable marriage, in which case the marriage is only deemed void at the option of one of the spouses. In India, there are three possible reasons for a Hindu marriage to be deemed void:

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a. Bigamy:
None of the parties to a marriage should still have a living spouse. If either spouse remains married, the subsequent marriage is void ab initio and non-existent.

b. Prohibited Relationships:
Hindu Law prohibits marriage between two persons if:
1. one is a lineal ascendant of the other; or
2. one was the spouse of a lineal ascendant or descendant; or
3. one was the wife of the brother or the father’s or mother’s brother or of the grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother; or
4. if the two are brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or children of brother and sister or of two brothers or of two sisters;

This includes illegitimate relationships as well as those by adoption.

c. Sapinda Relations:
A sapinda relationship extends, from the person in question, to the third generation (inclusive) in the line of ascent through the mother, and the fifth (inclusive) in the line of ascent through the father, the line being traced upwards in each case. Therefore, two persons are “sapindas” of each other if one is a lineal ascendant of the other within the limits of “sapinda” relationship, or if they have a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of “sapinda” relationship with reference to each of them.