Delhi High Court Upholds Nullity of Marriage between Cousins

Delhi High Court, October 9, 2023 – In a significant ruling today, the Court upheld the nullity of a marriage between cousins under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. This landmark judgment clarifies the legal position on such marriages and their validity under Indian law.

The case in question, MAT.APP.(F.C.) 35/2023, involved a Grover couple, who were cousins and had married in December 1998. Their union resulted in the birth of a daughter in August 1999. However, Husband filed a petition seeking the nullity of the marriage, citing that it fell within the degree of prohibited relationships as defined in Clause (v) of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The provisions of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act state that parties to a marriage shall not be sapindas of each other, unless the custom or usage governing each of them permits such a marriage. Sapinda relationships are defined as those extending up to the third generation through the mother and the fifth generation through the father, counted from the person concerned.

The trial court, in its judgment, declared the marriage null and void, agreeing with Husband’s contentions. Wife had claimed that there existed a custom of marriages within the sapinda relationship in their community, but the court found that this custom had not been established with sufficient evidence.

Delhi High Court Upholds Nullity of Marriage between Cousins

In the appeal before the Delhi High Court, Wife argued that the trial court had not adequately considered the evidence of customs permitting such marriages within the Grover sub-caste of Aroras. She claimed that there were eleven such marriages in their community, which were admitted by Husband in his rejoinder.

However, the High Court, in its judgment, reaffirmed that for a custom to be recognized as law, there must be clear and compelling evidence of its continuity, uniformity, and longevity. It noted that the marriages in question had taken place after the enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, and the evidence presented did not establish a longstanding custom permitting such unions.

The High Court, therefore, upheld the nullity of the marriage, concluding that it fell within the degree of prohibited relationship as defined by the Act.

Regarding the issue of maintenance, the High Court referred to a recent Supreme Court decision (Revanasiddappa and Another Vs. Mallikarjun and Others) and clarified that even in cases where marriages are declared null and void, the rights of children born from such marriages remain intact. In this case, the child who was born in 1999, is entitled to legal rights.

This judgment provides clarity on the legal validity of marriages between cousins and the importance of establishing customs or usages that permit such unions. It also underscores the rights of children born from marriages declared null and void under the law.

Download Judgment

Click above to download this Judgment in the case titled MAT.APP.(F.C.) 35/2023. It can serve as a valuable resource for legal reference.

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