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Bombay HC: Pheras Around Burning Incense Sticks is Saptapadi u/Hindu Marriage Act

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May 10, 2018

In a recent case, the Bombay High Court while deciding a matrimonial case recognized a bundle of burning aggarbattis as “sacred fire” under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

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Brief facts of the case- In the case the Petitioner prayed for dissolution of marriage on the ground that he was married off to the respondent forcibly and without his consent. The Petitioner inter alia also alleged that the impugned marriage was liable to be annulled as the Saptapadi ceremony (taking seven rounds/steps around the sacred fire) had not been performed.

The Family Court in the case after examining the evidence placed on record came to the conclusion that the Appellant was unable to prove that the marriage with the Respondent was solemnized without his consent. The Family Court also came to the conclusion that the marriage solemnized between the Appellant and the Respondent could not annulled by decree of nullity and the Respondent was entitled to a decree of restitution of conjugal rights.

The aggrieved appellant husband approached the High Court contending that the Saptapadi ceremony was not performed by taking 7 steps around the sacred fire as required under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and therefore the marriage could never have been said to be completed between the Appellant and the Respondent.

According to Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 a marriage is deemed complete and binding once the rites and ceremonies including the saptpadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire). Thus, the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken.

Bombay High Court’s Verdict

The Bombay High Court dismissed the husband’s appeal and made the following observations in the case:

That the Priest who performed the marriage had categorically stated that a bundle of agarbatti was burnt and the Appellant and the Respondent had taken seven steps/pheras around it.

That what is a sacred fire has not been defined in the Act. The fact that there was a bundle of agarbattis that was burning and the Appellant and the Respondent took seven pheras around the said agarbattis is not disputed. This being the case, it would be enough to show that there was compliance of Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

That the The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 itself mentions in section 7 as to what is Saptapadi viz. taking of seven steps by the bride-groom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire. The fact that seven pheras were taken around the bundle of burning aggarbattis and looking at the other evidence (such as photographs amongst other things) which clearly show that Sindoor was put by the Appellant on the Respondent and he has garlanded her- the requirements of a marriage as contemplated under The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 were duly complied with.

That merely because they took seven pheras around the burning aggarbattis did not mean that no seven pheras were taken around the sacred fire as contemplated under section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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