Parsi man’s plea to nullify wedlock under Hindu Marriage Act rejected

Bombay High Court: Dismissing a plea by a Parsi man to declare his 15 year old marriage to a Hindu woman null and void as their wedding was arranged in accordance with Hindu vedic rites although they belonged to different religions, a bench comprising of V K Tahilramani and A R Joshi, JJ held that there was no merit in the case and that the plea was barred by law. In this case, the appellant-husband had filed a plea for divorce on grounds of cruelty and desertion after his wife moved out of matrimonial home and later withdrew it to file a petition for nullity of marriage claiming he was not a Hindu at the time of marriage. This plea was rejected by the Family Court after which he filed the present appeal.

The Court after listening to arguments from both sides, stated that if according to the appellant, the parties had got married as per Hindu vedic rites and he had not converted to Hindu religion at the time of marriage then why was he seeking the decree of nullity under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act? The judges quoted many judgments including the case of Neeta Kirti Desai vs Bino Samuel George 1998 (1); BomCR 263 where it was held that rights under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 such as restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, nullity of marriage and divorce could be invoked only if both spouses followed Hindu religion (Section 2, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955).

The petition was also dismissed on grounds that it was a belated plea and that the appellant husband could not take advantage of his own wrong. The Court observed that the appellant had admitted that he got married to the respondent voluntarily in 1999 and that there was a delay of 12 years till the time he filed a plea in Family Court and in between a baby boy was born to the couple in 2001. The Court stated that no reason was pointed out to show what compelled the appellant to suddenly realise that he belonged to a different religion and seek nullity of marriage and thereby rejected his plea. Viraf Phiroz Bharucha vs. Manoshi Viraf Bharucha, 2014 SCC OnLine Bom 1510, decided on 13.10.2014


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