Marriage under the Hindu law is "sacrament" and "not a contract" which can be entered into by executing a deed, Delhi High Court has observed while dismissing a plea by a woman who had challenged an order refusing to declare her as the legally-wedded wife.
The woman had approached the court seeking her appointment for job on compassionate ground after the death of her alleged husband, a former sanitation staff in a city government hospital, and a direction to the medical superintendent to release consequential benefits and allow her to join duties.
The high court noted in its judgement that the petitioner had contended that she had married the man by way of execution of a marriage deed in June 1990 without disputing the fact that he was living with his earlier wife, who had died in May 1994.
"Since inception, the contention of the appellant (woman) had been that her marriage with the man on June 2, 1990 was performed by way of execution of a marriage deed and an affidavit. It is not disputed by her that the man had a living spouse on June 2, 1990 and she expired on May 11, 1994.
"Under Hindu Law, marriage is a 'sacrament' (solemn pledge) and not a contract which can be entered into by execution of a marriage deed. On June 2, 1990 the man was having a living spouse," Justice Pratibha Rani said.
The high court said the lower court had rightly held that the woman cannot claim the status of a legally wedded wife of the man on the strength of the alleged marriage and its order cannot be termed illegal.
The woman had claimed she was the man's widow and after his death, she had applied for appointment on compassionate ground after which she was offered appointment as 'safai karamchari' on temporary basis in the hospital.
Later, a show cause notice was served on her asking her to explain the legality and validity of her marriage with the man. She had replied that on the date of death of her husband in February 1997, she was his only wife.