Marriage and religion are very closely intertwined in the Indian society. Marriages are primarily based on the religion one follows. Since parents tend to arrange marriages for their children, they will scout for a match in their own community following the same religion. Conversion after marriage can be a tricky thing for the partner who has not been taken into confidence before the change happens. According to The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, if a person ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion, he or she will be eligible to apply for divorce based on the ground of conversion.
Conversion of the spouse to other religion was only for the purpose of circumventing the provision of Section 494 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Conversion to Islam by a Hindu spouse does not per se lead to dissolution of the marriage. It only gives a right to the other spouse to file a petition under Hindu Marriage Act for divorce. Under the pristine Hindu Law as well, conversion did not operate per se as a dissolution of marriage. A Hindu spouse who ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion does not acquire any right under the Hindu Marriage Act. On the other hand, he or she exposes himself or herself to a claim for divorce by the other spouse on the ground of such conversion. The spouse who remains a Hindu gets a right under the Hindu Marriage Act to seek dissolution of the marriage with the spouse who since the marriage ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.
The conditions before the Hindu marriage Act when a Hindu wife became convert to the Muslim faith and then married a Mohammedan, it was held that her earlier marriage with a Hindu husband was not dissolved by her conversion. She was charged and convicted of bigamy under S.494 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 prior to the Hindu Marriage Act.
After the Hindu Marriage Act if a marriage solemnised, can only be dissolved by a decree of divorce on any of the grounds enumerated in the Act. One of the grounds for divorce is that “the other party has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion”.
The Author K.P.Satish Kumar M.L. is the leading Divorce lawyer in Chennai, Tamilnadu.
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