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Impotency As A Proof To Nullity Of Marriage Under Hindu Law

When we talk about marriage, a variety of notions come to mind, and the most significant one is regarding the basis of marriage or the reason why individuals get married in the first place. More than one option comes up, but it's the most prevalent one that involves having children.

So what if a couple can't get married because one or both of them is infertile. We allow the marriage to be annulled in this circumstance. Let's begin by defining impotence and determining when someone is considered impotent.

When a person can't have sex because of medical or mental reasons, they are referred to as infertile. Whether or if it can be cured is a matter of debate. Because of this common misunderstanding, many people believe that only men can be deemed impotent. In reality, however, anyone who is unable to reproduce sexually owing to any mental or physical condition is termed impotent.

One last thing to keep in mind is that consummation is not considered when an encounter is only partial. Women who receive an artificial vagina and the husband is unable to consummate the marriage will be regarded impotent and the marriage will be deemed null and void in some jurisdictions, for example. In several of these situations, the court has issued a nullity decree.

Impotency or incapability must last indefinitely and consummation of marriage must be impossible in order to get the decision of nullity. As a result, an annulment may not be warranted if a minor surgical operation will resolve the issue. When one of the parties refuses to go through with a potentially risky surgical operation, it's enough to deem the marriage invalid.

Impotence and sterility are not the same thing, and it's crucial to remember that. It is possible for a person to be able to engage in sexual activity and still not be able to conceive. A declaration of annulment is not issued in these circumstances since the parties are regarded infertile and not impotent.

Meaning of Consummation

The most commonly accepted definition of consummation is the sexual intercourse between two people prior to or following the wedding. However, in some holy writings, it is explicitly stated that there should be no hindrance or contraception utilised during penile-vaginal contact.

A marriage is stated to be all about creating a family of parents and legitimate offspring, as well as satisfying the sexual desires of one or both of the partners. A marriage is considered a failure if it cannot be completed through sexual relations because of one or both partners' inability to engage in them owing to medical or mental reasons.

Even if this pair is unable to accomplish the very essence of the marriage and without this the existence of marriage doesn't matter, many books and laws today allow this marriage to be rejected. When it comes to annulment, we must keep in mind that the marriage may only be annulled if the parties choose to do so; if the couple decides to stay together despite the fact that the marriage has not been consummated, they are still considered to be legally married. In common law marriages, an annulment is also possible. This is also the origin of many of the world's most famous bedtime rituals.

There is a lot of importance placed on a girl's virginity in many of our religious writings. As a result, the girl's virtue is given a lot of attention and seen as crucial to the marriage. Texts clearly prohibit premarital sex for both male and female participants. In most cultures, if a woman engages in a sexual act prior to marriage, she is thought to be impure and so unsuitable for marriage.

If there is no consummation, the marriage can be cancelled under family law. A large number of people object to this rule because it discriminates against women and because marital rape has not yet been criminalised in many nations, rendering the victim powerless just because they are married.

Types Of Impotence

Everyone knows that impotence is a condition where an individual is physically or mentally unable of having sexual intercourse. Now, let's have a look at the different varieties of impotence.

Both primary impotence and secondary impotence are possible.

Primary impotence refers to a person's inability to ejaculate in the early years of his life, beginning at the time he reaches puberty. The term "secondary impotence" refers to a person who was once potent but has since lost his ability to perform sexual acts.

It's critical to recognise that impotence isn't limited to males. Anyone who is unable to have sex due of a medical or mental issue should be considered impotent. Men and women can both be impotent, despite the widespread belief that only men can be impotent when they can't get or sustain an erection long enough for intercourse. Because of her prosthetic vagina or any other reason, a woman who is unable to consummate her marriage is referred to as infertile.
  1. Impotence-Related Flaws

    Impotence in men is limited to those conditions that can't be corrected. There are a number of reasons for this, such as a large artery blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the penis, or a spinal cord injury or damage. Impotence is defined as a condition in which a minor surgical procedure fails to improve the patient's quality of life.

    It doesn't matter whether it's due to medical or psychological reasons, an inability to get a good erection is regarded to be impotence. Only men are impotent; however, women can be considered impotent due to the above-mentioned causes or physical problems like an artificial vagina or loss of libido.
  2. Impotence Is Not Believed To Be Caused By Flaws.

    A person can be labelled impotent in a variety of scenarios, but let's take a look at what faults are ineligible. Even if the difficulty with sexual intercourse occurred only a few times, it cannot be deemed impotence. This must be remembered at all times!
Impotence is a misconception that many people have, yet this is not the case. Having sex and being pregnant are two whole different things. Because the marriage was consummated correctly, even though she is infertile, she cannot be considered impotent because she is still capable of having sex.

Burden of proof and Evidence
The petitioner bears the burden of proving that the respondent is impotent in any claim for annulment of marriage filed because of the impotence of one of the spouses. It's thought to be crucial that the information is only shared between the two people involved. Medical tests are often used as evidence in cases of infertility. Moreover, proof of impotency is critical because merely accusing someone of being impotent is not enough because there will be no proof but only one person's word against another.

An examination by a medical professional is regarded the most reliable evidence of impotence. To find out if there is an organ abnormality or the person has difficulty getting an erection at all times, there is a test.

In the event that a person refuses to take a medical examination, the marriage is declared null and void. A person who accepts accusations of impotence and then rejects the text is awarded an annulment as well.

Court orders for impotency tests aren't a violation of privacy under Article 21 of the US Constitution, thus we should stress this issue. However, individuals have the option to take the test or not, but if they refuse to do so without providing a legitimate justification, the court will award them an annulment. The court can also grant a specific medical examiner to the respondent if requested by the respondent. Divorce medical examinations are not required in cases when the parties are appealing their divorce.

Can Impotency be considered as cruelty?

A lot of debate took place about whether or not one of the spouses' impotence was cruel. As a result, we can now claim that it is truly cruel because one of the primary foundations of marriage is to satisfy the sexual demands of our partner by consummating the union. A lack of ability to do so is mental cruelty on the part of the other partner, as they are suffering as a result of the other's apathy.

For example, if the male is unable to consummate the marriage due to impotence, this is mental cruelty to the wife and she has the right to have the marriage annulled. In cases of impotence, courts are now allowing annulment and also deeming it harsh.

"In cases like Susarla Subhramanya Sastry vs S. Padmakshi[1], the courts granted annulment on the facts that the husband is proved sexually incompetent and this also amounts to cruelty. This was just a drop in the ocean, there are many other cases in which the courts have granted annulment under Section 12(1)(a) amounting to sexual impotency and Section 13(1)(a) as mental cruelty due to the impotency of one spouse, of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955".

The statutes referred are Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) 1955, Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act (PMDA), 1936, Indian Divorce Act (IDA), 1869, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act (DMMA), 1939. This work is a detailed study on impotency as a ground for relief of a marriage.

Case Laws on Impotence in India

So far, we have seen what is theory and reasoning given for annulling the marriage void in cases of impotence. And discovered that courts grant relief on these matters under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindi Marriage Act. Now let's discuss some cases in which the courts granted this relief to the petitioners:
  1. Samar Roy Chowdhary v. Sm. Snigdha Roy Chowdhary [2] on 16 September, 1976

    The court note that in the present Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 curability is not mentioned at all. Thus, it is very clear that the question of curability of impotency is not a relevant consideration for the purpose of the decision under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as amended by the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976. It appears that if it is found that there was no consummation of marriage due to the impotency of the respondent the petitioner is entitled to a decree of nullity.
  2. Yuvraj Digvijay Singh v. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari[3] on 2 May, 1969

    The court held that on the basis of evidence it cannot be believed that the respondent a.k.a. the wife is not impotent. The court also declined the fact that the petitioner posed that the wife also repulsed him from any sexual act. It is not really important to deal with the findings of the District Court and High Court and eventually rejecting the appeal of petitioner that his wife was impotent at the time of marriage and continued to be so.
  3. Samar Som v. Sadhana Som[4] on 13 February, 1975

    The Division Bench of Calcutta High Court held that if the uterus of the woman was removed by operation before the marriage she cannot be considered as impotent. Citing the reference of Beena Cherian v. K.S. Varghese[5], that the presence or absence of uterus in a woman is immaterial to the fact that whether a woman is impotent or not. Because it was stated very clearly that the woman is fertile or not is completely different from the fact that she is potent or not.

Conclusion and Suggestions
Impotence refers to a person's inability to engage in sex because of a physical or mental condition, such as infertility or sterility. Moreover, we've seen that it's not just men who are impotent; women can be, too. A person can be declared impotent if he or she interferes with a partner's sexual performance in any way.

We've also talked about the differences between impotency and sterility, and how one can be infertile while still being fully potent. Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriages Act, 1955 clearly states that the other spouse may seek relief if one of the spouses is unable to consummate the marriage. Impotence can be argued as mental cruelty towards the other spouse, and the court has granted this request in some situations.

It was stated unequivocally that the other spouse's inability to conceive also constitutes mental cruelty. That's why the researcher thinks it was reasonable to give nullity in cases of impotence, because if the very aim of marriage isn't achieved, then what's the use of having one? It's also acceptable to say that living in a marriage that can't be consummated is stressful for both the wronged and the wronged's spouse.

  1. On 28 April, 2005; 2005 (4) ALD 821, 2005 (4) ALT 677, II (2005) DMC 707
  2. AIR 1977 Cal 213; 1985 AIR 582, 1985 SCR (2) 643; AIR 1957 Mad 243
  3. 1970 AIR 137, 1970 SCR (1) 559; 1958 AIR 441, 1958 SCR 1410
  4. AIR 1975 Cal 413
  5. AIR 2000 Ker 181, I (2000) DMC 704

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