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    Annulment

    Annulment is a legal procedure for undoing a marriage by declaring it null and void. The main difference between annulment and divorce is that an annulment says that the marriage never really happened.

    Decree of nullity

    A decree of nullity is a judicial decree determining in effect that the marriage in question never existed and it is not a divorce which acknowledges that there was a marriage and it is ending. The decree of nullity declares that the marriage is and has always been null and void as there are many conditions under which a marriage in India can be considered as an invalid marriage. A party has to present a petition before Court against the other party, setting in detail the reason for the annulment.

    Conditions for Annulment

    A marriage is considered to be a void marriage:

    • If either you or your spouse was married to another person at the time of getting married to you
    • If you or your spouse was suffering from a serious mental illness
    • If you or your spouse was below the minimum age (18 for women and 21 for men)
    • If your spouse was a close relative (within the prohibited degrees of relationship)
    • If either you or your spouse is impotent at the time of marriage and when the case is presented to the Court
    • If either you or your spouse refuses to complete the union of a marriage by the first marital sexual intercourse (consummate the marriage)
    • If one of the spouses was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some other person other than the spouse. In these cases, the Court has to make sure that the allegations are true
    • If the consent of either of the spouses to the marriage were obtained by fraud or coercion

    Batil and Fasid

    Under Muslim personal laws, marriages in violation of rules are known as Batil marriages. Those marriages which are in violation of conditions of affinity, fosterage etc are examples of Batil marriages. Batil is another way of saying that your marriage is void. A marriage can be annulled if it is a void and it means that the marriage is not legally binding.

    In certain circumstances, your marriage may be considered as Fasid or irregular. The prohibitions are temporary or a result of accidental circumstances - it is generally possible to rectify irregular marriages. An example of this is when no one has seen your marriage etc.

    Filing an Annulment

    A petition is to be presented to the District Court which has jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is determined in the following manner:

    • Where the marriage was solemnized
    • Where either of the spouses resides at the time of presentation
    • Where the spouses last resided together
    • If the wife is the petitioner, then the place where she was residing when she filed the case
    • Where the spouses has not been heard of being alive for a period of seven years
    • The petition should have all the facts and reliefs required and should only be submitted after it has been made certain that everything written in it is true
    • The Court has a duty to make sure that the proceedings go smoothly. They also have to try their best to make sure that there is a chance of reconciliation between the parties. This means that the spouses have to try to resume their marital relationship
    • You can also file an appeal after the decree has been granted and any decree or order which is passed will be enforced and will have to be followed
    Questions and Answers
    Click on a question to view the answer

    If your spouse is diagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Disease that prevents you from engaging in sexual intercourse, you can ask for the marriage to be declared as invalid.

    Glossary
    Coercion
    The action or practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.
    Void
    The legal definition for void is something that would have no legal effect. In this instance, a void marriage is a marriage that would be invalid from the beginning.
    Voidable
    Voidable is something that is capable of being void. In this instance, a voidable marriage would be one where it could be declared void by either of the parties.
    Consummate
    To complete a marriage legally through sexual intercourse
    Decree
    A husband or a wife, considered in relation to their partner.
    Jurisdiction
    The extent of the power to make legal decisions and judgment.
    Fasid
    A fasid marriage is not a valid marriage to begin with, but it can be validated and made a fully valid marriage by one of the parties. It is also referred to as irregular marriage.