Woman says did not know husband's religion, seeks to nullify marriage, Bombay HC dismisses claim

The Bombay High Court Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by a Hindu woman seeking nullity of her nearly 15-year-old marriage, who claimed that she was unaware that her husband was Christian at the time of marriage and hence the marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 cannot be held to be valid.

The woman had moved the court in 2011 saying that her marriage on January 13, 1999 as per Hindu rituals was null as her husband was a Christian and continued to profess the religion even after marriage.

Her lawyer said that under the Hindu Marriage Act, the marriage can be performed only between two Hindus and if any one of the parties is not Hindu, the marriage would be null. She claimed that her consent for the marriage was obtained fraudulently. She sought annulment of the marriage or alternatively sought divorce on the ground of cruelty.

"The surname of the respondent is 'Pinto' which is distinctly a Christian surname. Not only has the appellant not averred in the petition that she did not know at the time of the marriage that the respondent was not a Hindu but from the fact that surname of the respondent is 'Pinto' and other facts, it was clearly to the knowledge of the appellant that the respondent was a Christian at the time of the marriage. Thus, it is too late in the day to contend that her consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud and that the respondent had concealed from her the fact that he was a Christian," Justices V K Tahilramani and V L Achliya observed.

Upholding the order of the family court that granted no relief to the wife, the High Court noted, "The appellant (wife) has stated in her petition that her father and the respondent's father were close friends. The appellant and the respondent were acquainted with each other since their childhood. Their marriage was love marriage....It is pertinent to note that in the petition, the appellant has stated that her parents in fact opposed the marriage as she and the respondent were from different religions."\

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