The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 15th November 2019, in the matter of Rathnamma & Ors. v. Sujathamma & Ors. pronounced that mere registration of an agreement of marriage is not sufficient to constitute a Hindu marriage and can be no basis to claim inheritance in the capacity of spouse and a member of a Hindu undivided family.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:
The burden of proof as to any particular fact lies on the person who wishes the Court to believe in its existence. (Para 12)
An agreement of marriage only stating that “both parties are of same caste and with the permission and consent of both of their fathers, they have entered into an agreement of marriage” is not a recognised type of marriage in law as Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, contemplates that the marriage can be solemnized in accordance with customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto and where such rites and ceremonies include the Saptpadi, the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 13)
Where a plaintiff is entitled to the estate of the deceased only when the marriage of the plaintiff with the deceased is proved to be valid, the plaintiff will not be entitled to succeed only on the basis of alleged registration of an agreement of marriage. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 15)
In the absence of customary ceremonies or the custom permitting marriage between the prohibited degree, a plaintiff has no legal right to claim the share in the property of a deceased who is alleged by the plaintiff to be spouse of the plaintiff, only on the basis that some of the witnesses produced by the plaintiff admitted that the plaintiff married deceased. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 15)
Copy of judgement: Judgement_15-Nov-2019
-Adv. Tushar Kaushik