Hindu marriage not valid without 'saat pheras': Allahabad High Court [6.10.2023]

A Hindu marriage is not valid without the 'Saptapadi' ceremony and other rituals, stated the Allahabad High Court, while quashing the proceedings of a case in which a man claimed that his estranged wife had entered into a second marriage without first divorcing him.

The term 'Saptapadi' or 'saat pheras' is derived from Sanskrit and translates to 'seven steps'. The bride and groom complete seven full circles, walking clockwise around the sacred fire, or 'agni', to signify the seven principles and vows they make to each other. Each of these circles is referred to as a 'phere'.

Court's Order in the Case

Upon reviewing a petition filed by Smriti Singh, Justice Sanjay Kumar Singh noted, "It is well established that the term 'solemnise' implies, in the context of marriage, the celebration of the marriage with appropriate ceremonies and due form. It cannot be considered solemnised unless the marriage is performed with these proper ceremonies and due form."

If a marriage is not valid according to the law applicable to the parties involved, then it is not recognised as a marriage in the eyes of the law.

"The 'Saptapadi' ceremony under Hindu Law is an essential element for constituting a valid marriage, but such evidence is missing in the present case," the court elaborated in a recent ruling.

The court also referenced Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which indicates that a Hindu marriage may be solemnised following the customary rites and ceremonies of either party. Additionally, such rites and ceremonies should include the 'Saptapadi' (taking seven steps by the bride and groom jointly around the sacred fire), which renders the marriage complete and binding upon the completion of the seventh step.

While nullifying the summoning order dated April 21, 2022, and further proceedings of the complaint case pending before a Mirzapur court against the wife, the court stated, "There is no specific allegation concerning the 'Saptapadi' in the complaint or in the statements submitted before the court; therefore, this court believes that no prima-facie offence has been established against the applicant, as the claim of a second marriage lacks supporting evidence."

06 Oct 2023