The Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955, is a significant legislative framework governing marriage and related aspects among Hindus in India. Central to this legislation is the recognition and protection of women’s rights within the institution of marriage. This article endeavours to provide an in-depth analysis of the various rights and laws enshrined in the Hindu Marriage Act that empower women, emphasizing their legal rights, protections, and avenues for redressal.

Understanding Women’s Rights in the Hindu Marriage Act:

  1. Right to Consent and Choice of Partner (Section 5): The Hindu Marriage Act emphasizes the principle of free consent in marriage. Section 5 mandates that a marriage can only be solemnized with the free consent of both parties. This provision ensures that women have the autonomy to choose their partners and enter into marriage willingly, without coercion or pressure.
  2. Right to Monogamy (Section 5): Section 5 of the Act prohibits polygamy among Hindus. By recognizing monogamy as the norm, the Act ensures that women are protected from the potential harms of polygamous marriages, such as neglect, abandonment, or discrimination.
  3. Right to Maintenance (Section 24): Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act grants women the right to claim maintenance from their husbands during and after the dissolution of marriage. This provision ensures financial security for women, especially in cases where they are unable to support themselves financially.
  4. Right to child maintenance: Husband and wife must provide for their minor child. If the wife is incapable of earning, then the husband must provide her financial support.
  5. Right to a committed relationship: A Hindu male is bound not to marry any other girl or have an affair with anyone else unless he is legally divorced. In case the husband has a relationship with any other woman then he will be charged with adultery under section 497 of IPC. His wife has the right to file for divorce on the grounds of having an extra-marital relationship with any other woman.
  6. Right to Divorce (Section 13): Section 13 provides grounds on which either spouse, including the wife, can seek divorce from the marriage. These grounds include cruelty, adultery, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, and incurable mental illness. This provision empowers women to seek legal recourse and dissolve a marriage that is untenable or harmful to their well-being.
  7. Protection against Child Marriage (Section 5): The Hindu Marriage Act sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years for women and 21 years for men. By prohibiting child marriage and establishing a minimum age requirement, the Act protects young girls from the adverse consequences of early marriage, including health risks, limited education opportunities, and economic dependence.
  8. Right to residence: A wife has the absolute right to reside in a matrimonial household where his husband resides, irrespective of whether it is an ancestral house, a joint family home, a self-acquired home or a rental house.
  9. Right to Stridhan: Though not explicitly defined in the Hindu Marriage Act, the concept of stridhan refers to the property or assets that a woman brings to her marital home as part of her dowry or gifts received during marriage. Women have legal rights to their stridhan, and courts have recognized their entitlement to claim it in case of disputes or divorce.
  10. Right to Equal Treatment: While not explicitly mentioned, the Act upholds the principle of equality between spouses and prohibits discrimination based on gender. This overarching principle permeates various provisions of the Act, ensuring that women are treated fairly and equitably within the marital relationship.


The Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955, serves as a cornerstone in the legal framework governing marriage among Hindus in India. Central to this legislation is the recognition and protection of women’s rights within the institution of marriage. From ensuring the right to consent and monogamy to providing safeguards against child marriage and granting women the right to maintenance and divorce, the Act embodies principles of gender equality and justice. By recognizing and upholding the rights of women, the Act plays a crucial role in promoting gender empowerment and fostering healthier, more equitable marital relationships in Indian society.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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