The Supreme Court of India in the case of Swapnanjali Sandeep Patil vs Sandeep Ananda Patil, has passed a judgement dated 06.03.2019 holding that one needs no limitation period to seek declaration of a marriage as null and void.
In the above case Mrs. Swapnanjli Sandeep Patil (Appellant – wife) got married to Mr. Sandeep Ananda Patil (Respondent – husband) on 05.04.2010. The Appellant – wife in her complaint stated that the Respondent – husband started drinking and harassing her in numerous ways so the Appellant – wife left the house on 30.06.2012 and started dwelling with her parents. Before leaving the Respondent – husband’s house, she found a copy of Marriage Dissolution Deed dated 10.12.2009 between the Respondent – husband and his first wife.
Further, the Appellant – wife filed a Petition in the District Court of Pune under Section 25 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (the Act) for the declaration of marriage as null and void as the Respondent – husband had obtained consent for marriage by fraud, then she further added that she was not aware of the first marriage and the respondent – husband had declared himself as a bachelor in the marriage documents. The District Court of Pune dismissed the Petition by order dated 01.12.2014 stating that the ill-treatment by the husband and consent for marriage obtained by fraud cannot be the grounds under section 25 of the Act. The Court further held that the Petition was beyond limitation one year as per Section 25 of the Act.
The Appellant – wife dissatisfied by the judgment of the District Court appealed before the Bombay High Court. The High Court of Bombay by its order dated 09.03.2016 stated the same reasons given by the District Court. Dissatisfied by the judgement of the High Court the Appellant – wife appealed in the Supreme Court of India.
The Apex Court held that both the Trial Court and High Court have made an error in observing that the matter was filed beyond the period of limitation. The Court further held that the Courts above ought to have considered Section 24 read with Section 4 of the Act which states that a marriage will be void if the Respondent – husband already has a living spouse. The Court further held that the Courts above ought to have considered that at the time of Appellant – wife’s marriage with the Respondent – husband, the Respondent – husband’s first marriage was subsisting and had a living spouse so therefore, the marriage between the Appellant – wife and Respondent – husband would be null and void. The Apex Court added that no limitation is prescribed so far as to presentation of petition under Section 24 of the Act to declare a marriage as null and void.
The Supreme Court of India while deciding the matter has declared that there is no limitation in case of a void marriage and declared the marriage between Appellant – wife and Respondent – husband as null and void.
The Indian Lawyer