The Supreme Court has observed that no period of limitation is prescribed so far as presentation of petition for declaration to declare a marriage being null and void, under Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act.
The said judgment was held in the matter of Swapnanjali Sandeep Patil Vs. Sandeep Ananda Patil, decided on 06.03.2019.
In this case, the ‘wife’ had approached the Court of District Court, Pune under Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, for declaration of marriage as null and void, mainly on the ground that her ‘husband’ had married her without obtaining the decree of divorce from the competent court and that at that time of marriage he was having a living spouse and that he had suppressed the fact of the first marriage from her. The Trial Court dismissed her plea and the matter was appealed in the Bombay High Court. To hold that the application was out of period of limitation, the bench referred to the Apex Court.
Allowing her appeal, the bench noted that Section 24 of the Act provides that any marriage solemnized under the Special Marriage Act shall be null and void and may, on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party, be so declared by a decree of nullity if any of the conditions specified in clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Section 4 has not been fulfilled.
Section 4 of the Act, the marriage between any two persons may be solemnized under the Special Marriage Act if at the time of the marriage neither party has a spouse living.
Therefore, considering Section 24 read with Section 4 of the Act, if at the time of marriage either of the party has spouse living, then the said marriage is a void marriage and a decree of nullity can be passed on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party.
Finally the bench observed that no period of limitation is prescribed so far as presentation of petition for declaration to declare a marriage being nullity/void marriage, under Section 24 of the Act and rightly so, as once the marriage is void the same is a nullity and at any time the same can be declared as nullity being a void marriage. It added that the trial court as well as the High Court erred in observing that the marriage petition was barred by limitation.