Void Marriage- No Period of Limitation to Declare a Marriage Null and Void- Supreme Court

March 07, 2019

In this recent case, taken up by the Apex Court yesterday, the Court has held that there is no period of limitation so far as presentation of petition to seek declaration of a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act.

Case name: Swapnanjali Sandeep Patil v. Sandeep Ananda Patil

The Appellant has challenged Bombay High Court’s order, whereby the Court had dismissed appellant’s petition to declare her marriage with the respondent as null and void. The Appellant’s case was that the respondent obtained her consent for marriage by fraud and that she was ignorant to the first marriage of the respondent at the time of marriage. On the other hand, the respondent averred that at the time of their marriage, the appellant was in knowledge of his first marriage and despite the same she married with him.

The Trial Court dismissed the marriage petition inter alia on the ground that the application was out of period of limitation as according to the provisions of Section 25 of Special Marriage Act, 1954 (Voidable marriages) the period of limitation is one year after the fraud had been discovered. The Trial Court’s order was upheld by the High Court of Bombay. The Respondent in appeal before the Apex Court also argued that the marriage petition was barred by period of limitation and was fit to be dismissed.

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s order and allowed the appellant’s plea in view of following observations in the case:

That considering Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act (void marriages) read with Section 4 of the Act (conditions relating to solemnization of special marriages), if at the time of marriage either of the party has spouse living, then the said marriage is a void marriage and a decree of nullity can be passed on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party.

That no period of limitation is prescribed so far as presentation of petition for declaration to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Act and rightly so, as once the marriage is void the same is a nullity and at any time the same can be declared as nullity being a void marriage.

The entire case can be accessed here.