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HINDU LAWS (Landmark Judgement)

Updated: May 4

HINDU LAWS (Landmark Judgement)
HINDU LAWS (Landmark Judgement)



Yamunabai v. Anantrao, AIR 1988 SC 644

The Supreme Court affirmed that in cases of bigamous marriage, the 'second wife' does not hold the status of a wife since the second marriage is considered null and void.

Priya Bala v. Suresh Chandra, AIR 1971 SC 1153

The Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution must establish that a second marriage was solemnised, and mere acknowledgment by the accused of contracting a second marriage is insufficient.

Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, AIR 1995 SC 1531 

The Supreme Court clarified that marriage does not automatically dissolve upon one spouse's conversion to another religion. A second marriage by a Hindu apostate to Islam while the first marriage is still subsisting violates the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The decision in Sarla Mudgal's case was reexamined in the Lily Thomas case, where the court held that a marriage conducted under one personal law cannot be dissolved under another personal law due to a change in the parties' religion.

Bhaurao v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1965 SC 1564

The Supreme Court determined that a marriage must be celebrated or performed with proper ceremonies and in due form to be considered solemnised.

Seema v. Ashwani Kumar, AIR 2006 SC 1158

The Supreme Court mandated the compulsory registration of marriages regardless of religion. It directed the Central and State Governments to formulate relevant rules accordingly.

Rathnamma v. Sujathamma, AIR 2020 SC 541 

The Supreme Court noted that mere registration of a marriage agreement is insufficient to prove marriage.

Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1965 SC 1364

Proper solemnization of marriage, celebrated or performed with proper ceremonies and due form, is crucial for constituting bigamy.

Lata Singh v. State of UP., (2006) 5 SCC 475

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not prohibit inter-caste marriages; such marriages are lawful if the essential conditions laid down in the Act are followed.



Saroj Rani v. Sudarshan Kumar, AIR 1984 SC 1562

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 9, stating that conjugal rights are inherent in the institution of marriage. Section 9 merely codifies existing law, with the provision of 'reasonable excuse' serving as a safeguard against its misuse.

Russel v. Russel (1897) AC 395

In this case, the term 'cruelty' was defined for the first time. The court ruled that cruelty encompasses conduct that poses a danger to life, limb, or health—both physical and mental—or gives rise to a reasonable apprehension of such behaviour.

Dastane v, Dastane, (1975) 2 SCC 326

The Supreme Court held that cruelty constitutes conduct that creates a reasonable apprehension of harm or injury, making it intolerable for one spouse to live with the other.

Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi, AIR 1988 SC 121

The Supreme Court determined that demanding dowry amounts to cruelty within the context of marriage.

Savitri Pandey v. Prem Chandra Pandey, AIR 2002 SC 591

In cases of divorce sought on the grounds of desertion, the party initiating the divorce must demonstrate that they are not benefiting from their own wrongdoing.

Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746 

The Supreme Court ruled that the six-month period stipulated in Section 13B(2) is not obligatory but rather discretionary. It is within the court's purview to exercise discretion based on the facts and circumstances of each case, particularly when there is no possibility of the parties reconciling after exhausting all efforts of mediation and conciliation.

Digvijay Singh v. Pratap Kumari, AIR 1970 SC 137

Impotency, in legal terms, refers to a physical or mental condition that renders the consummation of marriage practically impossible.

R. Lakshmi Narayan v. Santhi, AIR 2001 SC 2110

To declare an individual unfit for marriage and procreation due to a mental disorder, it must be established that the ailment suffered is of such a nature and extent that it renders them incapable of leading a normal married life. The standard of proof required is stringent.

Ravi Kumar v. Julmidevi, (2010) 4 SCC 476

Cruelty must be assessed by considering the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case. There is no fixed formula for determining cruelty in matrimonial relationships. It entails the absence of mutual respect and understanding between spouses, which sours the relationship. Silence in certain situations may also amount to cruelty.

Bipin Chandra v. Prabhavati, AIR 1957 SC 176

Desertion requires animus deserdendi; it must be demonstrated that the deserting spouse maintained the intention to desert throughout the statutory period of two years.

Manish Goel v. Rohini Goel, AIR 2010 SC 1099 

The Supreme Court can grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage under Article 142 of the Constitution.


Hitachand Srinivas Mangaonkar v. Sunanda, AIR 2001 SC 1285

A petitioner does not possess an inherent right to obtain a divorce decree solely by demonstrating the existence of grounds for relief. Engaging in illegal or immoral acts can preclude relief in matrimonial matters.

Manisha Tyagi v. Deepak Kumar, AIR 2010 SC 1042

Cruelty need not necessarily pose physical danger to the petitioner; rather, it encompasses any conduct by the respondent falling below the accepted standards of reasonable behaviour between spouses.

Such conduct must be of a nature that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to tolerate, leading the court to believe that the parties' relationship has deteriorated to the point where living together without mental anguish or distress is impossible.


Hitesh Bhatnagar v. Deepa Bhatnagar, (2011) 5 SCC 234

Court is bound to pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage of the parties before it to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree if following conditions are met - 

  1. A second motion of both the parties is made not before six months from the date of filing of the petition as required under sub section (1) and not later than 18 months. 

  2. After hearing the parties and making such inquiry as it thinks fit, the court is satisfied that the averments in the petition are true; and

  3. The petition is not withdrawn by either party at any time before passing of the decree. 


Rajnesh v. Neha, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 903

The Supreme Court framed guidelines on the issue of maintenance of wife, covering overlapping jurisdiction under different enactments for payment of maintenance, interim maintenance, the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance.

  • Where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the court would consider an adjustment or setoff, of the amount awarded in the previous proceeding/s, while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding. 

  • It is made mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding. 

  • The applicant making the claim for maintenance will be required to file a concise application accompanied with the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets.

  • The respondent must submit the reply alongwith the Affidavit of Disclosure within a maximum period of four weeks. The Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and liabilities shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country. 

  • On the failure to file the affidavit within the prescribed time, the Family Court may proceed to decide the application for maintenance on basis of the affidavit filed by the applicant and the pleadings on record.

  •  The income of one party is often not within the knowledge of the other spouse. Hence, the court may invoke Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872 if necessary, since the income, assets and liabilities of the spouse are within the personal knowledge of the party concerned.

  •  If during the course of proceedings, there is a change in the financial status of any party, or there is a change of any relevant circumstances, or if some new information comes to light, the party may submit an amended/ supplementary affidavit, which would be considered by the court at the time of final determination. 

  • The pleadings made in the applications for maintenance and replies filed should be responsible pleadings; if false statements and misrepresentations are made, the court may consider initiation of proceeding Under Section 340 CnRC., and for contempt of court.

  • In case the parties belong to the Economically Weaker Sections (“EWS”), or are living Below the Poverty Line (“BPL”), or are casual labourers, the requirement of filing the affidavit would be dispensed with. 

  • The concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrate’s Court must make an endeavour to decide the application for interim maintenance within a period of four to six months at the latest, after the Affidavits of Disclosure have been filed before the court.

  • Parties may lead oral and documentary evidence with respect to income, expenditure, standard of living, etc. before the concerned court, for fixing the permanent alimony payable to the spouse.

  • The duration of the marriage would be a relevant factor to be taken into consideration for determining the permanent alimony to be paid.

  • Provision for grant of reasonable expenses for the marriage of children must be made at the time of determining permanent alimony, where the custody is with the wife. The expenses would be determined by taking into account the financial position of the husband and the customs of the family.

  •  For determining the quantum of maintenance payable to an applicant, the factors which would weigh with the court interalia are 

  • the status of the parties;

  • reasonable needs of the wife and dependant children;

  • whether the applicant is educated and professionally qualified;

  • whether the applicant has any independent source of income;

  • whether the income is sufficient to enable her to maintain the same standard of living as she was accustomed to in her matrimonial home;

  • whether the applicant was employed prior to her marriage,

  • whether she was working during the subsistence of the marriage; 

  • whether the wife was required to sacrifice her employment opportunities for nurturing the family, child rearing, and looking after adult members of the family;

  •  reasonable costs of litigation for a non-working wife; □ standard of living of the husband, as well as the spiralling inflation rates and high costs of living □ serious disability or ill health of a spouse, child / children from the marriage / dependant relative who require constant care and recurrent expenditure, would also be a relevant consideration while quantifying maintenance. 

  • The aforesaid factors are however not exhaustive, and the concerned court may exercise its discretion to consider any other factor/s which may be necessary or of relevance in the facts and circumstances of a case.

  • Maintenance in all cases will be awarded from the date of filing the application for maintenance before the concerned court.

  • For enforcement / execution of orders of maintenance, it is directed that an order or decree of maintenance may be enforced under Section 28A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956; Section 20(6) of the D.V. Act; and Section 128 of Cr.P.C., as may be applicable. The order of maintenance may be enforced as a money decree of a civil court as per the provisions of the CPC, more particularly Sections 51, 55, 58, 60 r/w Order XXI.

Abhilasha v. Prakash. (2020) SCC OnLine SC 736

An unmarried Hindu daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father until she is married, as per Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, provided she demonstrates her inability to support herself. Section 20(3) of the HAMA, 1956, essentially reflects the principles of Hindu Law concerning the maintenance of children and elderly parents.

It imposes a statutory obligation on a Hindu to provide maintenance to his or her unmarried daughter who is unable to sustain herself from her own earnings or property.

Manish Jain v. Akansha Jain, (2017) 15 SCC 801

The discretionary power to grant interim alimony should be exercised judiciously. Courts should refrain from assessing the merits of conflicting arguments while deciding on applications for interim alimony. Additionally, courts must consider the income of both parties when making such determinations.


Basavarajappa v. Gurubasamma, (2005) 12 SCC 290

The Supreme Court determined that upon adoption, the adoptee is integrated into the adopting family with the same rights as a natural-born son. The adopted child becomes a coparcener in the Joint Hindu Family property after severing all ties with the natural family.

Gurudas v. Rasarajan, (2006) 8 SCC 267 

The performance of Datta Homam is not a prerequisite for the validity of adoption according to Section 11(vi)(proviso). Even if Datta Homam is conducted, the adoption is considered to have occurred at the time of actual giving and receiving, rather than at the time of the religious ceremony.



Gita Hariharan v. RBI, (1999) 2 SCC 228

The Supreme Court clarified that the term 'after' in Section 6(a) cannot be construed to mean 'after the life of the father'. Instead, 'after' signifies 'in absence of'. If the father is absent or completely indifferent to the minor's affairs, then the mother assumes the role of the natural guardian.

Mohini v. Veerendra Kumar, (1977) 3 SCC 513

The Supreme Court emphasised that the primary consideration in determining child custody is the welfare of the minor, superseding the rights of the parents.

Gaurav Nagpal v. Sumedha Nagpal, (2009) 1 SCC 42

When deciding custody arrangements for a minor child, the paramount consideration is the 'welfare of the child', not the statutory rights of the parents.


Radhamma and others v. Muddu Krishna and others, (2019) 3 SCC 611

The Supreme Court held that a Hindu's undivided interest in joint family property can be disposed of through a Will in accordance with Section 30 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

Dodamuniyappa through LRs v. Muniswamy and others, 2019 (4) ALT 294

The Supreme Court ruled that property inherited from a father by his sons becomes joint family property in the hands of the sons.

Rukhmabai v. Laxminarayan, AIR 1960 SC 335

The Supreme Court established that the typical state of every Hindu family is that of a joint family, presumed to be joint in food, worship, and estate, and it continues as such.

Sitabai v. Ram Chandra, AIR 1970 SC 343

Even upon the death of the sole surviving coparcener, the Hindu joint family does not dissolve as long as there remains the possibility, either by law or nature, of adding a male member to it.

Krishna Prasad v. C.I.T. Bangalore, AIR 1975 SC 498 

The Supreme Court clarified that a Joint Hindu family can include a male Hindu and his wife, and may even comprise two female members, but it must consist of at least two members to be recognized as such.

Makhan Singh v. Kulwant Singh, AIR 2007 SC 1808 

Merely the existence of a Joint Hindu family does not automatically presume a property to be joint Hindu family property. The burden of proof lies on the party claiming such property to establish its joint Hindu family status.

Arunachalam v. Murugantha, AIR 1953 SC 495

Under Mitakshara law, a father has the authority to sell his self-acquired property to a third party without his son's concurrence. Similarly, he can gift such property to one of his sons to the detriment of another. In such cases, it cannot be presumed that the property gifted or bequeathed automatically assumes the status of ancestral property.

Rani v. Shanta, AIR 1971 SC 1028

In the context of alienating Hindu joint family property based on legal necessity, the necessity itself is not the sole criterion. Rather, the severity and adequacy of pressure upon the estate may also be considered.

Balmukund v. Kamlavati, AIR 1964 SC 1385

An alienation of joint family property by the Karta, when not made for any legal necessity or benefit, is subject to being voided at the request of other coparceners.

Vineeta Shanna v. Rakesh Shanna, (2020) 9 SCC 1

Daughters possess the right to coparcenary by birth, irrespective of whether the father coparcener was alive when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into effect.

This entitlement is innate and endowed from birth, with the same rights, status, and incidents of coparcenary as those of a son. Thus, a daughter is treated as a coparcener with identical rights as if she were a son at the time of her birth.

Bhagwat Sharan v. Purushottam, (2020) 6 SCC 387

The burden lies upon the person who alleges the existence of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) to prove the same. Not only the jointness of the family has to be proved but burden lies upon the person alleging existence of a joint family to prove that the property belongs to the joint Hindu family unless there is material on record to show that the property is the nucleus of the joint Hindu family or that it was purchased through funds coming out of his nucleus. 

Vineeta Shanna v. Rakesh Shanna, (2020) 9 SCC1

In Mitakshara coparcenary there is unobstructed heritage and obstructed heritage. When the right is created by birth it is called unobstructed heritage. In obstructed heritage the accrual of right is obstructed by the owner’s existence. It is only upon his death that obstructed heritage takes place. 

Arshnoor Singh v. HarpaJKaur, (2020) 14 SCC 436

Karta can sell coparcenary property for legal necessity or for the benefit of the estate. Onus of proof that the property was alienated for legal necessity or for benefit of estate is on alienee. In case alienee admitted sale was without consideration and failed to discharge his onus, sale deed alienating coparcenary property is liable to be set aside. 


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