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Menace of Gunpoint Marriages: A Deep Dive into Bihar's Inhuman Practice

Gun point marriage refers to marriage performs forcefully between bride and groom. It usually practiced in Bihar, eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and northern part of Jharkhand. Excessive demand of dowry is considered as the core region of this inhuman practice.

Gunpoint marriage involved in 1980s in Bihar where groom had been kidnapped by the relatives of the bride at gunpoint. Girl's families have been kidnapping suitable youths for forcible marriage. Families often use friends and relatives, and sometimes even hire professional criminals, to carry out abductions for marriages. In this article Gunpoint marriage has been discussed briefly.

Gunpoint marriage is also known as Pakdua Vivah, in which the groom is kidnapped/abducted by the relatives of the bride at gunpoint and if the groom restrained from doing accordingly then they beat and even threatened to death to the groom. This inhuman practice imposed on bride and groom forcefully while the relative of the bride they put pressure on people to marry against their consent either physically or emotionally or psychologically.

This gun point marriage or Pakdua Vivah took place in late 1980s in Begusarai Bihar. This malpractice Often found in upper caste in 1980s, despite the Dowry prohibition law, there was huge demand of dower in upper cost for the groom. People who did not afford such amount of dower then they used to practice these kinds of malpractices. Later gun point marriage become an easy way to get groom who has financially settled despite law, this malpractice is still prevail in Bihar and its surrounding region.

Root cause behind gun point marriage
Excessive demand of dowry is the main reason of gunpoint marriage, although Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 had passed by the Parliament, which made the act of giving and receiving dowry a crime. People reside in Gangetic plain who has job in government sector demand a lot of dowers.

There is another reason pulled rapid increase in post marriage is also arranging marriage within close knits social circle. It means a man is asked to marry to a girl within his close relatives, for example with Sister's sister-in-law and brother's sister-in-law.

This case took place In Samastipur when a young man had gone to take his sister to her in law's home, after which his brother-in-law and other relatives took him to the temple and got him married with his sister.

There were some other instances where bride and groom know each other for a long time. They want to marry with each other, but the groom's parents don't agree because of dower then groom asked to bride parents to kidnap him and perform marriage with his daughter so he can make excuse to his parent.

In Ganga belt region of Bihar, many gangs are active to conduct this kind of marriages. People hire them to find grooms in their caste. Such gangs are engaged in this kind of marriage have highly demanded in the season of marriage.

Consequences of forced marriage
Gun point marriages take place without the consent of the groom and the bride, in some cases the groom denies to accept the bride. Since the decision regarding gunpoint marriage is taken by the parents of the bride, then it is also a blind marriage for the bride and it leads many outcomes which affect both the parties to the marriage:

  • Health Issues: Since marriage has not performed with the consent of the parties then it may create toxic environment which affect the health.
  • Domestic Violence: It includes different kinds of domestic violence like physical, sexual, and psychological assault to the bride. In India, about 32% of ever-married women reported having experienced violence while with their husband in their married life, although domestic violence is a crime under IPC Section 304 B and Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
  • Adultery: Gunpoint marriage took place without the consent of the parties to marriage. It may happen that the bride had an affair with someone and she did not tell her parents in fear before marriage, leading to adultery after marriage. It is also a crime under Section 497 of the IPC 1860. In Indian law, only a man can be punished for adultery, up to five years of imprisonment or with a fine. A woman cannot be punished for adultery as per Indian law.
  • Marital Rape: It often remains unreported since there is no law dealing with marital rape in India. There have been many amendments and pleas for marital rape to be criminalized, and still, it did not become a crime. Marital rape takes place when a husband has intercourse with his wife without her consent, and in the case of forced marriages, it happens regularly. This should also come under domestic violence.
  • Divorce: Many gunpoint marriages lead to divorce. Marriage solemnized forcefully becomes null and void in the eye of the law. It leads to diverse Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, dealing with the provision of divorce. Marriage can be dissolved on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife.

Legal Framework
Many gunpoint marriages remain unreported because of bright relatives Had man power they threaten to groom not to complain about such marriages. Patna High Court has annulled the marriage of a person who was kidnapped and forced to marry a woman at gunpoint. It not only detained the life of groom but also restrained right to choose life partner under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

Bihar has recorded the fluctuation in the case of Pakdua Vivah. According to the state crime record Bureau there were 7194 forced marriages has been reported in year 2020, 10125 in 2019, 10,310 in 2018 and 8972 in 2017.

Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states various grounds for a valid marriage among Hindus, a marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus if the following grounds are fulfilled.
  1. Neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage at the time of marriage
  2. Neither party is incapable of giving a valid consent to it in order to consequences of unsoundness of mind
  3. The bride has completed the age of 18 years and groom has completed the age of 21 years.
  4. Neither party has been subject to recurrent effect of insanity.
However, gunpoint marriage does not fulfill the condition required under Hindu Marriage Act, so it is not recognized in the eye of the law.

Case study:
In December 2023, a 23 years old school teacher in Bihar who was abducted and forced to marriage with the daughter of one of the kidnappers at gunpoint. Later he was rescued by the police. He complained that he was assaulted brutally by the kidnappers. He was kidnapped just after 12 days from his posting as teachers in governmental school.

Gunpoint marriage cannot be carved without the assistance of society. Major portions of this society support these kinds of inhuman practices because of lack of awareness regarding laws and lack of rationality. Government should initiate various scheme to curb poverty which develops rational thinking among people.

Access of education also eliminate this kind of malpractices government takes certain measures which ensure access to education to every section of society. In Bihar people are still think not to educate their daughter which lead such kind of problem. There should be a strict law regarding dowry.

There should be awareness camp regularly in each district, which develops rational thinking among people regarding inhuman practices like forced marriages, caste discrimination etc. People should also try to prohibit such kinds of activities when they see their surroundings.

It is almost 76 years of independence and we are still slave of such social evils. Forced marriage is not only prevail in Indian society but in other countries like United Kingdom, Canada, even in North America it remains unreported. Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) states: Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.

They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. Everyone has right to choose their life partner by themselves.

  • Hindu Marriage Act 1955
  • Indian Penal Code 1860
Journals and Magazines:
  • Indian Express, Pakdua Vivah, 4th February, 2018
  • Soni Mishra, Marital Rape, The weekly magazine pp. 36-40, 24th September, 2017
  • New Delhi, Priyanka, Forced to wed: Right to choose, if when and whom to marry, Patna Women College, March 2019.
  • Universal Declaration on Human Rights,, December 10th, 1948

  • Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Ravi Ranjan Paswan
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: JN438022723596-14-0124

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