A Hindu marriage is the ceremony that harmonizes two souls for eternity recognising them as spouses, through certain rituals. According to Hinduism, a marriage is a very sacred affair between soul that stretches beyond one lifetime and may continue up to at least seven lives.
The beliefs of the Hindu sages, holy books and the ancestors were incorporated in a legislation which merely dealt with the Hindu Marriages, namely, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It was a codification of all customs practiced for a Hindu marriage. Keeping the utmost importance of ‘union of two souls for eternity’ in mind, section 5(i) stated that a marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage, which means that the validity of a Hindu marriage will greatly depend on the fact whether a Hindu already has a living spouse at the time of such a marriage, stressing on the concept of monogamy. Moreover, Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 also says that a marriage would be void if either of the party already has a living spouse at the time of such a marriage, further disregarding the validity of the second marriage in toto.
This provision was reiterated in the case of Binod Kumar Singh v. Union of India, a Patna High Court case. The Appellant, an Assistant Sub Inspector in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had solemnized a second marriage with another constable in CRPF. A departmental proceeding was conducted on the complaint of his first wife, wherein he was proven guilty and subsequently dismissed from service by order. The Counsel appearing for the Appellant stated that the first wife had filed an affidavit mentioning that the appellant had solemnized a second marriage with her permission and consent, whereas the counsel appearing for the Respondent refuted the submissions and stated that the appellant had forged documents during the course of the departmental proceedings.
A division bench of the High Court of Patna (in the case of Binod Kumar Singh v. Union of India and Ors., CWJC 8078 of 2007) comprising Justices Hemant Kumar Srivastava and Prabhat Kumar Singh held that consent of the first wife does not give right to a man to solemnize second marriage during the lifetime of the first wife. The court dismissed the appeal and said that, even if there is a presumption that the first wife of the appellant had given him the consent for the second marriage, such consent still does not give the appellant the right to solemnize a second marriage in the subsistence of the first marriage.
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