Read Order: Yogesh Kumar v. Priya

Tulip Kanth

Chandigarh, September 27, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently observed that, the respondent-wife was of the age of 17 years at the time of marriage and she could file a petition for declaration of the marriage as void before she attained the age of 18 as per Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

In the present case, the marriage between the parties was solemnized on February 27,2009. At the time of marriage, the appellant (husband) was major being of the age of 23 years whereas the respondent (wife) was of the age of 17 years, 6 months and 8 days on the date of marriage. They got separated on August 31,2017.

Every possible effort made by the parties and friends for reconciliation was failed and the parties decided to dissolve their marriage by way of mutual consent. There was a minor child from this marriage namely Manas and as per the settlement, the custody of the son was given to the husband.

Herein, the appellant as well as the respondent were aggrieved of the Order whereby the Principal Judge, Family Court, District Ludhiana had dismissed the petition filed under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Division Bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Arun Monga observed that when the parties made a petition under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the respondent-wife was major and the marriage was valid.At the time of marriage the wife was not 15 years of age and could not invoke the provisions of Section 13(2)(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act. Had she been 15 years of age, she could have invoked the provisions only before she attained the age of 18.

According to the Bench, in the present case, after marriage both the parties continued to live together till August 31,2017. The respondent (wife) had crossed the age of 18 years in the year 2010 itself. Hence, the Family Court had wrongly dismissed the petition.

The Court opined that both the parties continued to live together and cohabited as husband and wife since 2009 till 2017 and the respondent-wife had not chosen to file a petition for getting her marriage void. Hence, for all intents and purposes, when they made a petition under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the respondent-wife was major and the marriage was valid.

The Bench noted that since the respondent-wife was 17 years, 6 months and 8 days at the time of marriage, hence for all intents and purposes, no petition was filed for declaration of her marriage as void by the wife and the petition under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 should have been allowed.

The Bench observed that the Family Court had wrongly dismissed the petition filed under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by holding that the parties were required to get their marriage nullified as per Section 13(2)(iv) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Court mentioned that the parties agreed that they would  withdraw all the cases/police complaint filed against each other. Thus, granting the decree of divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to the parties, the Bench allowed the appeal.

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