Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered invalid from the beginning, almost as if it had never taken place (though some jurisdictions provide that the marriage is only void from the date of the annulment). In legal terminology, an annulment makes a voidable marriage null. If a marriage is void ab initio, then it is automatically null, although a declaration of nullity is required to establish this. The process of obtaining a declaration of nullity is similar to an annulment process.
Annulment of marriage is moved on certain grounds specified in various matrimonial laws. Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act lays down the grounds on which petition for annulment can be filed.
Grounds for Annulment of Marriage in India
There are four broad grounds for annulment of marriage in India. They are explained below.
- Marriage not consummated owing to the impotency of the respondent
- Marriage is in contravention of the condition specified in Section 5(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
- Consent is obtained through fraud.
- At the time of marriage, the respondent was already pregnant.
Once a petitioner is successful in proving its case, marriage is declared null and void. Resultantly, the court considers that the marriage has not taken place at all and that the tag of “divorcee” is not attached. Annulment of marriage is very important in the scheme of matrimonial laws, as there is no point in carrying the burden of divorce in cases where marriage has been solemnised on the strength of fraud or where the marriage is solemnised despite the fact that the responding spouse was already married.