The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 considers the conduct of shastric rites to be
necessary for the solemnization of marriage.
In India, there is no specific law governing "live-in relationships," and no
enactments defining the rights and responsibilities of couples cohabiting in a
live-in relationship. This article examines the practises required for the
solemnization of a valid Hindu marriage under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage
Act, 1955, as well as the status of live-in relationships as recognised by
statutes and courts in relation to the presumption of marriage as laid down
under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Ceremonies for a Hindu Marriage
Marriage Ceremonies according to Hindu Law
- A Hindu marriage can be solemnised in line with either party's
conventional rites and procedures.
- After saptpadi (the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the
bride together before the sacred fire) is included in such rites and
ceremonies, the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step
Under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the conduct of shastric rites is deemed
necessary for the solemnization of marriage. The ceremonies and rites included
in Section 7 of the Act can be divided into two categories :
- The Hindu Law's mandated shastric ceremonies and rites, or
- In the caste or society to which one or both of the parties (or both)
belong, conventional ceremonies and customs predominate.
Kanyadana (bride's gift), panigrahan, vivahahoma, and saptapadi are some of the
most important shastric ceremonies practised and performed by Hindus. The
saptapadi ceremony, in which the husband accompanies the bride for seven steps
in a north-eastern direction while singing sacred hymns, is the most essential
and necessary rite for Hindus.
It has been determined that saptapadi must be performed prior to the sacred
fire. The chanting of mantras, on the other hand, is not required for the
legitimacy of the marriage, and the proper performance of the ceremonies is
sufficient for the solemnization of a Hindu marriage.
In Deivani v. Chindavdram
, the Madras High Court decided that the two
fundamental rites for the solemnization of a Hindu marriage are kanyadaan or the
girl's gift and the saptapadi, and that if the saptapadi is omitted and all
other ceremonies are done, the marriage is not legitimate. The Calcutta High
Court has ruled in Tarapada Jana v. Kumar Bhawani Giri that if Saptapadi is
properly done, complaints that shlokas were not read will not invalidate the
Customary Ceremonies Constituting a Valid Marriage
If either side of the party has a customary ceremony that is followed and done
properly, it will suffice to establish the marriage's validity under the law as
per section 7 of the Act. For customary rituals and ceremonies to be accepted,
it must be demonstrated that they have been practised among members of the
particular caste, group, or sub-caste since ancient times, and that they have
been recognised as mandatory in nature over time (Rabindra Nath v. State
. The recognised customary ceremony might be non-religious or simple in form,
and it can only consist of one ceremony.
As a result, the performing of saptapadi is not a condition of every Hindu
marriage. Many communities in India have their own unique customary rites that
have been validly recognised over time, some of which are included here:
Consequences of Non-Performance of the necessary Rites and Ceremonies
- The smearing of vermilion on the bride's forehead by the bridegroom is the only
required ceremonial among the Santhals. [5
- The only ritual required among the Nayahans of South India is the tying of a
vadu veeta thali around the bride's neck. 
- There is no need for a ceremony among Buddhists; all that is required is mutual
- No ceremony is required among the Karewa community of lower caste Hindus, and if
the partners live together as husband and wife with the intent to live as such
is sufficient to form a properly solemnised marriage.
In order to acquire recognition of a legitimate marriage under the Hindu
Marriage Act, 1955, the relevant ceremonies, whether Shastric or customary, must
be performed on the bride's or groom's side.  The Supreme Court declared in
Banu Rao v. State of Maharashtra
 that the execution of requisite
rites has been deemed indispensable for the prosecution of bigamy, and that
prosecution for bigamy cannot succeed without such performance.
In A.N. Mukerji v. State
(1969 AIR 489), a physician was charged with
bigamy when it was alleged that he performed three marriage ceremonies at three
different occasions. The first was the moon ceremony, the second was the
exchange of garlands in Kali temple after taking seven steps, which was an
imitation of saptapadi, and the third was done in front of the Guru Grantha
Sahib, which was a replica of the Sikh ceremony because the woman was Sikh.
The court ruled that performing fake marriage ceremonies did not constitute
legal ceremonies, and thus the charge for bigamy was dismissed. The topic of
performing necessary ceremonies has been determined in various cases to be
critical for the restitution of conjugal rites, and restitution of conjugal
rites cannot be granted if no valid ceremony has been done. 
Status of Live-in Relationships and the Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act,
In India, there is no specific law governing live-in relationships, and no
enactments defining the rights and responsibilities of couples cohabiting in a
live-in relationship. Although the law is uncertain on this, courts have
acknowledged live-in relationships throughout time. The Protection of Women from
Domestic Violence Act of 2005 was the first to recognise live-in partnerships as
lawful, offering protection to women who are not legally married but are in a
relationship with a male individual.
According to Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, a court may presume the
existence of any fact that it believes is likely to have occurred, taking into
account the natural flow of events, human conduct, and public and private
business in a relationship as to the facts of the case. As a result, where a man
and a woman live together for an extended period of time, there is a presumption
of marriage. Unless the opposite is proven, a legitimate marriage by continuous
cohabitation between the parties will be presumed unless independent evidence of
solemnization of marriage is obtained.
The Supreme Court ruled in Madan Mohan Singh v. Rajni Kant
 that the
law presumptively favours marriage over concubinage. According to the principle,
a man and a woman who have lived together for a long period are presumed to be
married. It has also been noted that a long-term live-in relationship cannot
simply be a walk-in/walk-out relationship, and that children born from such
unions are legal.
In Anandi v. Onkar
, it was established that if a community of
neighbours treats a pair as husband and wife, they are regarded as married, and
the burden of proving that they were not formally married falls on the party
The Supreme Court, in the landmark case of S.Khushboo v. Kanniammal
broadened the horizons by holding that live-in relationships fall under the
ambit of the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and that
it is a permissible act of two majors living together that cannot be considered
illegal or unlawful.
The importance and indispensability of the ceremonies in terms of the proper
solemnization of Hindu marriages cannot be disputed. The Hindu Marriage Act of
1955 has done an excellent job of catering to the interests of various Hindu
communities by granting legitimate and equal recognition to shastric as well as
customary ceremonies relevant to distinct communities. With the changing demands
of the times and social behaviours, such as live-in relationships, statutes have
attempted to identify such relationships in order to facilitate the execution of
laws for the benefit of all.
- Dr. Paras Diwan, Modern Hindu Law, p.88, 89.
- Deivani v. Chindavdram, 1954 Mad 65
- Tarapada Jana v. Kumar Bhawani Giri, 2020 Cal 78
- Rabindranath v. State, 1969 Cal 58
- Dhuma v. E., 1943 Pat 109
- Tirumalai v. Ethirajamah, (1946) 1 MLJ 438
- Mi Me v. Shwe (1912) 39 Cal 492.
- Charan Singh v. Gurdial Singh, 1961 Punj 301 (FB)
- Laxman Singh v. Keshar Bai, 1966 MP 166
- Banu Rao v. State of Maharashtra, 1965 SC 1564
- Deivanai v. Chindaubaram, 1954 Mad 657
- Madan Mohan Singh v. Rajni Kant (2010) SCC 209
- Anandi v. Onkar1960 Raj 251