Applicability of Hindu Marriage Act


In the line of codification of personal laws, the marriage between Hindus was codified in the year 1955, which has resulted into Hindu Marriage Act, 1955(hereinafter cited as HMA,1955). Before going to any other provision of the Act, it is very important to know as to upon whom this Act is applicable or who are the persons which comes under the realm of the Act. This article tries to answer these basic questions.

Application of Act

Section 2 of HMA,1955 gives an elaborate description as to the persons on which this Act is applicable. There are four kinds of people upon which the Act applies:

  1. Any person who is Hindu by religion.
  2. Any person who is from any of form or developments of Hindu Religion i.e. Virashaiva, Lingayat or a follower of Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Smaj.
  3. Any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina , Sikh by religion
  4. Any person who is domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends i.e., whole India. This clause apparently cover almost every Indian in its realm, so the Act has excepted a few persons:
  • One who is a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
  • One who proves that he is not governed by Hindu Law. It is worth mentioning here that Hindu Law here means the law which dealt the matters of this Act, before passing of this Act.

Meaning of expression “Hindu”

Before proceeding further, let us first go into the meaning of expression “Hindu”.  After going through the above list of persons, it is quite clear that the word “Hindu” does not only includes the persons who are Hindu by religion. This is further clarified by the Act in clause (3) of section 2, according to which the expression Hindu should interpreted in a  sense that the person may not be Hindu by religion but any person upon which the HMA, 1955 is applicable due to section 2 of the Act.

Who is Hindu, Buddist, Jaina or Sikh by religion?

Next question that is relevant here and worth answering is who is Hindu, Buddist, Jaina or Sikh by religion? This is mentioned in explanation of clause (1) of section 2. It says the following persons are  is Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas or Sikhs by religion:

  • Any child whose both parents are Hindu, Buddhist, Jainas or Sikhs. The child can be either legitimate or illegitimate.
  • Any child one of whose parents belongs any one such religion but in addition to this he has been brought up as a hindu. Here as well, the child can either be legitimate or illegitimate.
  • Any person who has been converted or reconverted to these religions

Non Applicability on other persons:

Apart from Muslims, etc this Act is not applicable on the members of scheduled tribe which come under the Article 366(25) of Constitution. However, Central government can direct the application on these tribes by notification in Official Gazette.

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