Annulment of marriage simply means cancellation of marriage. It is as if the marriage never existed. Annulment is different from divorce. Divorce implies that the marriage actually existed between the parties and now the parties want to live separately. Annulment is different – it implies that the marriage between the parties was void ab initio and it was never valid in law. Law as to annulment of marriage is laid down in section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The grounds on which marriage may be annulled under Hindu Marriage Act are impotency of the respondent, consent to marriage was not valid because of unsoundness of mind or even though the respondent was capable of giving valid consent, the respondent was suffering from mental disorder of such a kind as to be unfit for marriage and procreation of children or that the respondent has been subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy. The marriage can also be annulled on the ground that the consent of Guardian for the marriage was obtained by force or fraud as to the nature of the ceremony or to any material fact or circumstance concerning the respondent. And lastly, annulment of marriage can be sought on the ground that the respondent was at the time of marriage pregnant by some other person other than petitioner.
Impotence as understood by Hindu Marriage Act does not mean merely erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. Impotence of the respondent must be of such a nature that the consummation of marriage is a practical impossibility. Medical evidence can easily prove that the wife is still a virgin or that the respondent husband or wife are incapable of getting the marriage consummated. Consummation of marriage means complete intercourse in the ordinary course of nature. The test of consummation of marriage is the penetration. If penetration is full and complete, marriage can be said to be consummated.
Mental incapacity or any mental disorder – Either spouse must have requisite mental capacity to enter into a matrimonial relationship. A person of unsoundness of mind who is not capable to give a valid consent cannot enter into a matrimonial relationship under law.
Fraud – We have witnessed that a lot of Non-Resident Indians (NRI) annulment cases relate to fraud in one way or the other. We have observed that many people in India get married to Non-Resident Indians (NRI) only to get permanent residency or citizenship of foreign countries. To get that, they lie as to their family status, their financial resources, their sources of income, their caste and religion, educational background and so many other things. Eventually such lies are discovered as truth cannot remain hidden forever. In such cases the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) who have been defrauded seek annulment of marriage on the grounds on which they have been materially misrepresented and defrauded.
Complete text of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is on Divorce page.